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Microsoft giveth and taketh away

Windows Defender and Advanced Threat Protection

Saturday, October 19, 2019 by DrJBHL | Discussion: Personal Computing

Windows Defender is an excellent antivirus and antispyware. On my machine, I use it and Malwarebytes Premium. I also try to use common sense as to where I visit, and what I open.

Advanced Threat Detection was added to Defender (MS) as a voluntary service. It was originally part of Enterprise solutions. I opted to add it to my system. I've had to remove it, since I didn't want to roll back the update and wait hopefully for a bug fix which would break something else.

"Microsoft Defender ATP uses the following combination of technology built into Windows 10 and Microsoft's robust cloud service:

  • Endpoint behavioral sensors: Embedded in Windows 10, these sensors collect and process behavioral signals from the operating system and sends this sensor data to your private, isolated, cloud instance of Microsoft Defender ATP.

  • Cloud security analytics: Leveraging big-data, machine-learning, and unique Microsoft optics across the Windows ecosystem, enterprise cloud products (such as Office 365), and online assets, behavioral signals are translated into insights, detections, and recommended responses to advanced threats.

  • Threat intelligence: Generated by Microsoft hunters, security teams, and augmented by threat intelligence provided by partners, threat intelligence enables Microsoft Defender ATP to identify attacker tools, techniques, and procedures, and generate alerts when these are observed in collected sensor data." - MS.

 

On 10/15/19, KB450062 was issued. It has, unfortunately, a new bug. This bug disables ATP, hence the title of this article. Also, this comes as an update for you in the seemingly unending series of MS's buggy updates.

"Microsoft added the issue to the list of known issues on the support page of the update:

After installing this update, the Microsoft Defender Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) service might stop running and might fail to send reporting data. You might also receive a 0xc0000409 error in Event Viewer in MsSense.exe.

The company suggests that the update should not be installed on devices which rely on Microsoft Defender Advanced Threat Protection functionality.

At this time, we suggest that devices in an affected environment do not install this update.

Microsoft hopes that it will have a solution for the issue ready in mid-November, likely in time for the November 2019 Patch Day on November 12, 2019. Microsoft releases security updates for all supported versions of Windows on the second Tuesday of any month." - gHacks

Anyway, it was a nice five, threat free days.

You might want to review the list of bugs with 1809 and its updates which you can find here.

If you have a request for a specific topic, or one which I haven't covered recently such as software, please let me know by pm.

 

 

 

DeskScapes 8: How to Have Animated Wallpapers on Your Windows Desktop

Tuesday, May 15, 2018 by Island Dog | Discussion: Personal Computing

DeskScapes is an application for Windows 10/8/7 that lets you apply animated wallpapers to your desktop. It also gives you the ability to customize and manage static wallpapers by adding effects or recoloring your existing wallpapers. 

Try DeskScapes for free!
To purchase DeskScapes, click here.

Quick Overview
The screenshot below shows the DeskScapes user interface. The left side of the window shows all of your animated and static wallpapers.  Choose which folders to display and add or remove folders from the "Settings" option.

Tip! Get more animated wallpapers from WinCustomize.com

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Tip! Animated wallpapers have a small filmstrip icon on their thumbnail preview so you can see which are animated and which are static wallpapers. 

Selecting a wallpaper will bring up a preview which is displayed on the right side of the window. If it's an animated wallpaper, it will display an animated preview so you can see what the animation is. 

 

Settings and Effects
Depending on what type of wallpaper you're using, there may be additional settings available. For instance, the "Expanding Shapes" animated wallpaper is dynamic, so it can be customized further. There are additional options to adjust the size of the shapes, how many shapes are used, and how fast the animation should be. 

Tip! The cool Expanding Shapes dynamic wallpaper is included with DeskScapes

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Clicking the "Effects" tab will bring up a large list of available effects.  These will work on both animated/static wallpapers, along with your images/videos.  Examples include; Grayscale, Motion Blur, Textured, and my favorite, Snow.  Selecting each filter will bring up a preview of the effect on your chosen wallpaper for a quick preview.  DeskScapes also allows you to combine effects so you can create a custom look of your own.

Tip! The Snow effect adds animated falling snow over your wallpaper for a very cool effect.

 

Applying Wallpapers
After you've selected a wallpaper to use, simply click "Apply" on the bottom right corner of DeskScapes and your selected wallpaper will apply to your desktop. If you use multiple monitors you will also have the option to "Apply to all monitors", or select which monitor to apply the wallpapers to.

Tip! DeskScapes lets you apply a different wallpaper to each monitor also!

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Learn more about DeskScapes here.

DeskScapes is available individually for your Windows PC, but you can get that and more with a low-cost membership to Object Desktop. While you're a member, you'll get free updates, access to all betas, and any new apps for one year. You’ll also get access to other great programs like Groupy, Start10, Fences, WindowBlinds, Multiplicity, and more!

Visit the Object Desktop site for more information.

 

Fences Feature Highlight: Using Pages for a Cleaner Desktop

Tuesday, May 8, 2018 by Island Dog | Discussion: Personal Computing

We've previously talked about Folder Portals, a really cool feature that makes finding what you need quick and easy. This week, I thought we’d take a look at another new feature: Pages.  This is great for people who have a lot of icons on their desktop, or like to keep them super-organized with multiple Fences. 

With the Pages feature, you can create a virtual desktop of sorts with your icons and Fences that can be switched by pulling on the edge of your screen.  A quick animation is really the best way to show it:

Alternatively, you can configure the pages to switch using the middle mouse button drag, keyboard combos, and a few other methods.  To access all of these settings just open up the Fences configuration and select Desktop Pages.

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Learn more about Fences here.

Fences is available individually for your Windows PC, but you can get that and more with a low-cost membership to Object Desktop. While you're a member, you'll get free updates, access to all betas, and any new apps for one year. You’ll also get access to other great programs like Groupy, Start10, DeskScapes, WindowBlinds, Multiplicity, and more!

Visit the Object Desktop site for more information.

Fences: Folder Portals are Cool!

Tuesday, April 17, 2018 by Island Dog | Discussion: Personal Computing

Fences is one of our most popular apps, and one of the coolest features is the ability to create folder portals.

This allows you to take a folder and create a Fence on the desktop with the contents of that folder. This is so convenient and useful for so many reasons, but being able to directly interact with a folder as a fence is just cool.  Not all folders need or can be placed on the desktop, so this gives you the opportunity to work with them regardless of where they reside on your drive.

Get Fences here.

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There’s several ways to get a folder portal going:

Right-click and drag on your desktop like you would for a normal fence. You will now have an option for a Folder Portal here.

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Right-click a folder and create the Folder Portal from there.

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Hold the Alt key while dragging/dropping a folder to your desktop.

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Learn more about Fences here.

Fences is available individually for your Windows PC, but you can get that and more with a low-cost membership to Object Desktop. While you're a member, you'll get free updates, access to all betas, and any new apps for one year. You’ll also get access to other great programs like Groupy, Start10, DeskScapes, WindowBlinds, Multiplicity, and more!

Visit the Object Desktop site for more information.

Groupy for the Busy College Student

Keep all your essays, references, music streaming, and more organized and easy to navigate!

Tuesday, March 20, 2018 by Tatiora | Discussion: Personal Computing

As much as it pains me to admit it, I’ve been out of college for awhile now - 10 years in April, to be precise. Still, I have fond memories of Ren Faire, campus life, apartment living, and a community of close friends. The less fond memories include apartment living (two sides to every coin!), tuition, and those sleepless nights of crunchtime because I forgot about (or procrastinated on, let’s be real here) a paper that was due the next day.

I used to do some stage combat stuff in collegeI did some crazy fun stuff in college… I swear I ACTUALLY did schoolwork sometimes, too!

 

I was a writing major at Grand Valley State University here in Michigan and sometimes I was working on as many as three or four pieces at once. Each concept required different resources and references, and I was using a single monitor on an old Dell desktop. Although it’s been awhile since I’ve been a student, I think I can remember back far enough to know how much easier life would have been if I’d been able to utilize Groupy.

Obviously not everyone works the same way, but I personally need music of some kind while I’m writing. Usually, I try to suit the sound to whatever it is I’m working on, so sometimes that means specific lists on iTunes, but when I’m feeling flexible I use a streaming service like YouTube, Pandora, or Spotify.

My desk in college - excuse the mess. It was finals week...I’m not sure why I have a pic of my desk from college. It’s a mess – must have been finals week…

 

It would have been nice to be able to utilize Groupy to keep, for example, the Spotify app in a group so I could tab to it easily without having to minimize or maximize the window to switch a song or check a playlist.

I also would often save and use reference images to spark ideas or practice writing descriptions, so I definitely wish I’d have been able to keep multiple file explorer windows together for things like that.

I imagine that students in other majors would make even more use out of the program than I would have -- my needs at the time were pretty basic (and, admittedly, still are). I have always utilized multiple chat programs (IRC and AIM back in the day, Skype and Discord now) and keeping those all contained together would have (possibly - let’s not dream too big here) made me a lot more organized.

Groupy would have helped me manage my spreadsheets full of character biographies, backgrounds, and connections. I really just love how neat and organized I can keep my desktop with the tabs; no digging through windows and min/maxing the wrong one 10 times before I find what I need.

 

My desktop with Groupy today

My desktop currently – Discord, Skype, web browser, file explorer, and LiveWriter, all neat and contained.

 

Groupy may not have been around in my college days, but I utilize it both at work and at home daily now. My needs are simple and the software is definitely capable of benefitting the people who juggle programs and tasks a lot more than I do. Share your experiences with Groupy or show me your screenshots in action – I’d really like to know how other people use it, too.

 

Not sure about Groupy yet? Try it FREE and bring the power of tabs to your desktop!

Celebrate St. Patrick's Day with some fun custom skins, dreams, and more from WinCustomize!

These customizations will make you GREEN with envy...see what I did there?

Tuesday, March 13, 2018 by Tatiora | Discussion: Personal Computing

St. Patrick's Day is almost here! I thought I'd celebrate by sharing some of my favorite Dreams, wallpapers, and skins from WinCustomize. There aren't a ton of shamrocks and leprechauns specifically, so I tried to keep the heart of the holiday in my mind as I selected these. You'll see Irish landscapes, a lot of green, and everyone's favorite beverage of choice for St. Patrick's day, too.

 

What's better than the ruins of a castle beside the sea? Maybe a fully functional castle beside the sea? Still, the view is marvelous.

Irish Beachside Castle

Ireland Seaside Castle by rlphwshr

Ah, the forests of the Emerald Isles. This peaceful Dream with drizzling rain is one of my favorites.

Irish Forest

Irish Forest by rlphwshr

This skin absolutely... rocks. Okay, yeah, I'll admit that wasn't particularly funny, but at least the skin is cool.

Shamrock WindowBlinds

Shamrock (Master Skin) by LightStar

A little bit of old school green flare is in this "magical" skin.

Leprechaun Majik

Leprechaun Majik by Vampothika

Of course, I had to include this one. I know too many people who run to the nearest pub on St. Patty's day. Amazing if they can get a seat!

Beer!

Beer by Klaatu Berada

This skin might make you green with envy. ...yeah, just, uh, check out the skin and ignore my puns. That's what everyone else does.

Lime Green

Lime Green by don5318

 

Happy St. Patrick's day! 
Browse other awesome customizations over at WinCustomize

The Ultimate Customization Apps for your Windows Desktop

Tuesday, February 20, 2018 by Island Dog | Discussion: Personal Computing

For many of us who work with computers all day, it can get a bit boring to look at the same bland desktop all day long. While Windows has made some improvements to the user interface over the years, it's still the same as everyone else's in your home or office. I like to customize things, especially items I use often, and my PC is no exception. 

You can customize your desktop as much or as little as you would like with a variety of custom themes and skins found at WinCustomize.com. I wanted to give a quick rundown on how you can make your desktop unique using customization apps available from Stardock.


Change the entire user interface with WindowBlinds
WindowBlinds has been the ultimate customization app for Windows for many years and has been download millions of times. WindowBlinds lets you change the entire user interface to one of the thousands of custom skins that are available on WinCustomize. These skins can be customized further by changing the color, transparency, and texture to suit your style. If you're aWindows 10 user, then using Start10 along with WindowBlinds will also give you the ability to change the Start menu to match the rest of the skin.

Get WindowBlinds for $9.99

 

Animate your desktop wallpapers with DeskScapes
DeskScapes lets you have cool animated wallpapers right on your desktop. It has over 40 special effects that can be applied to wallpapers in order to take your customization even further. You can apply your images and videos to be the desktop wallpaper and can use any animated wallpaper as your PC screensaver.

Get DeskScapes for $7.99

 

Change your desktop icons with IconPackager
Want to change all the icons on your PC at once? IconPackager uses an entire package of icons to change nearly every one at the click of a button.  You can also change the icons individually, but there are thousands of icon packs available that can apply a matching set across your entire Windows PC. These bundled packs of custom icons can also be customized and recolored from within IconPackager. This is great for matching the color scheme of other skins you might be using.

Get IconPackager for $9.99

All of these applications are individually available for your Windows PC, but you can get them all (and more!) with a low-cost membership to Object Desktop.  While you're a member, you'll get free updates, access to all betas, and any new apps for one year. In addition to the apps listed above, Object Desktop suite includes:

Visit the Object Desktop site for more information!

Groupy for the Project Manager

Busy doesn't have to mean crazy - our marketing manager shares how Groupy helps her keep organized

Tuesday, February 13, 2018 by Tatiora | Discussion: Personal Computing

Our core marketing team here at Stardock consists of a small group of very dedicated, very busy people. Because of how many products on both the software and game side we handle on a daily basis, an organizational system is absolutely integral to our success.

Katie, our marketing operations manager, is the glue that holds our team together. Because of her diverse skill set, she tackles a lot of different tasks for our team, including keeping all of us and our individual assignments on track!

Because of how much Katie does during her workday, Groupy has become an essential part of keeping her organized. Several simultaneous tasks spread out across 2 computers and 3 monitors was tough to keep track of before (though she managed!), but she’s found that combining her tasks into tabbed groups helps make everything a lot easier to find.

Katie's Desk

“I keep all of my Adobe programs in one group, explorer windows in another, and then my email, calendars, and Producteev in another,” she told me. Groupy is especially useful for people with fewer monitors, since it cuts down on the space that all of the open windows take on the desktop. Here’s an example of how Katie’s monitors look:

Katie's Monitors

Multiple file explorer windows in a single group makes it easy to keep different files open for easy access without having to click through a bunch of windows. Katie also has her email, calendar, and task management software grouped together on that same monitor.

On her second display, she keeps her web browser tabs together on their own, while keeping Photoshop, premiere and other Adobe products grouped together using Groupy.

Groupy has changed the way a lot of us organize and manage our tasks during our busy days. I don’t have to juggle nearly as much as Katie does, but Groupy has still helped to streamline the way I work so that I can flip through tasks more efficiently and waste less time trying to find what I’m looking for.

Have you tried Groupy yet? If you have, we’d love to hear about how you use it! Share your screenshots and experiences in the comments below.

If you haven’t installed Groupy, you can learn more about the program here. If you’d like to try it out for yourself, consider downloading our free trial and see what you think!

Show Your Desktop Some Love with these Valentine's Day Skins

Tuesday, February 6, 2018 by Island Dog | Discussion: Personal Computing

Valentine’s Day is approaching and this is another good opportunity to add some related skins and themes to your Windows desktop. One of the great things about holidays is that WinCustomize usually has a great selection of ways to spruce up your desktop, from WindowBlinds skins, animated wallpapers, cursor themes, and more.

The best way to get the ultimate desktop experience is with Object Desktop. This is our suite of desktop enhancements and includes apps like WindowBlinds, DeskScapes, Fences, Groupy, Start10, IconPackager, and much more.

You can see many of the Valentine’s Day inspired skins here on WinCustomize, but I wanted to feature some of our favorites.

Valentine’s Day start button by DanilloOc

 

Love Web Dream by ChaNinja

 

Happy Valentines Day wallpaper by vlad

 

My Dirty Valentine CursorFX theme by Vampothika

 

DeskScapes and Start10 are all included with our Object Desktop suite. If you want to go a step further with your Valentine's customization, you can get CursorFX and get some more custom downloads from WinCustomize.com.

 




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