Category Archives: News

Current events and developments happening with the Internet.

Internet Is Still Not TV – But It’s Getting There

This Sunday’s showing of the much-awaited 5th season premiere of HBO’s Game of Thrones grimdark fantasy drama was anxiously watched, and not just by avid fans. The wildly-popular series also provided an excellent real-life test case of just how good Internet streaming could be in the wake of the FCC’s historic decision to support Net Neutrality. The results were highly encouraging. The episode topped cable charts for the week, hauling in an estimated 7,997,000 viewers. Only pro wrestling came near. And despite rampant piracy, including the first four episodes of the new season leaking on the Internet, Game of Thrones broke its own audience record. The event was also a test case for HBO’s brand-new standalone streaming service, HBO Now, aimed only at Apple users, which survived without crashing. However, Dish TV’s Sling streaming service was not so lucky, with users citing delays signing in, not being able to get the show or even any other Sling channels on various platforms, including Roku and Xbox. Sling is Dish TV’s service for those unwilling to subscribe to cable, but this is not the first time it has had problems. March Madness basketball’s semi-final game also caused the service to falter. The basic reason is the hidden difference between TV and the Internet. As we’ve written before, TV and the Internet work by completely different and opposite models. TV, even cable and satellite, is a broadcast medium – content is sent out … Continue reading

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Tech Support Is Easier with a Copilot

Sooner or later, everyone needs help for their computer, or has been called upon by someone – parent, child, sibling, co-worker, or friend – to lend technical assistance for some problem too difficult for the other party to solve. Many times, advice must be given from far away, which can greatly compound the difficulties. And even if you’re quite familiar with the type and model of machine, it can be very frustrating trying to deal with computer problems entirely over the phone. Wouldn’t it be much easier for the helper to actually see the screen, and do whatever needs to be done from the person’s own desktop? Now there’s an online site that can allows just that: Copilot Remote Assistance. This handy tool grants the person giving tech support over the phone the ability to actually log into the recipient’s machine remotely. The supporter can actually drive the other device, moving the mouse and typing on the keyboard, while the recipient watches. No more long descriptions, having to go back a step, etc. Copilot is available to everyone for a small fee, but it’s free for our customers’ computers. Our techs often rely on it. So if you as a member need help, call SWCP Tech Support to get a special invitation code to start a session. After talking it over with the technician, you’ll have to download software for your recent Windows or Mac machine for Copilot to work, … Continue reading

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Superfish Troubles Continue

The March 2015 Portal just came out. It’s all about Superfish, adware preinstalled on certain Lenovo laptops, supposedly to enhance user choices and options while shopping. But the software breaks the basic protections embedded in TLS and the digital certificate system that are vital to online commerce. Superfish, to paraphrase our Vice President Jamii Corley, is like a salesman so pushy that he breaks all the locks on your house in his eagerness to enter and leaves them broken so that anybody else, salesman or impersonator, can get in. Another way of looking at it is that Superfish forged the seals on the documents that make sure the party you’re talking to is the one intended, rendering the whole system worthless. Either way, it smells. It’s such a dangerous threat that the Department of Homeland Security has recommended it be removed ASAP. However, it turns out it’s not that easy. Lenovo claims to have stopped installing it on their computers, but some are still being shipped. And while Lenovo has published removal instructions, it turns out that their method leaves the application and libraries intact. Fortunately, there are other options.  First of all, there’s a simple online test to see if your brand-new laptop is affected. And here’s Lenovo’s list of models that “may be” infected. It may prove safer, if more complicated, to remove it by hand. Some commercial software antivirus programs offer removal tools available for those less technically oriented. … Continue reading

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