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June 2015
Windows 10
is almost here.
Windows 10

The word from Mount Redmond is July 29 2015.

That is the official release date for Windows 10. It is a free update for Windows 7, 8 and 8.1 users. Some of you may have already noticed the icon by the clock for upgrade to Windows 10.

Clicking the icon will bring up the “Get Windows 10 app”, (GWX) which will allow you to reserve your copy of Windows 10. It will download the files for Windows 10 and save them so that on the 29th you will not have to worry about an overloaded server ruining your plans. At least that’s the plan. Alternatively you can go to Microsoft’s Windows 10 website and reserve your copy there too.

There is a bit of marketing hype around this release date. If you do not reserve your copy you can still get the free download for a year, (anytime before July 29 2016). Even after that you can still get Windows 10 the old fashioned way. You can buy it, but it takes money.

It just may be that Microsoft got it right with this one.

Enter the Operating System as a service. Microsoft has said this is the last version of Windows and it is the same Windows on everything. Of course updates and fixes will still be needed from time to time. They will be downloaded and installed, for the most part automatically and most people will not even notice. The days of an outdated or obsolete PC may be coming to an end.

What is in the new Windows 10

The Start Menu is back! Still have the Start page with the live tiles but a start menu is available by clicking the icon on the lower left like it used to be.

Cortana is you new assistant. Actually Cortana has been a feature on the Windows phone for a while. You can use it like a search engine for your computer and the Internet. With conventional search engines you are probably better off typing in the whole question in a full sentence. With Cortana you may find it easier to use just a few spoken words.

If you ask Cortana to “find me a Subway sandwich shop” it will probably start searching through your e-mails for something related to Subway. A better choice might be to just say “Subway Sandwich” without the “find me” part and get it to find the Subway shop closest to your current location.

Xbox is in so games are going to change a bit. This is mainly a step in the direction that the same Windows is on phones’ tablets, desktop and even Xbox.

There are just a few of the many new features in Windows 10. Some of them we are just finding out about so I am sure this will be a great adventure for all.

What is not in the new Windows 10

Internet Explorer is no longer the default browser. Actually MSIE 11 is still buried in there but you would have to go dig it up. Most people I know are quite happy to leave it buried! The new browser is called Microsoft Edge, (formerly Project Spartan). In tests with various portals and web sites so far it has been surprisingly flawless. This is a big improvement over Internet Explorer.

Media Player is gone. In fact the installation process will remove it if it is there. Don’t worry, your music, videos and pictures will still be there. About playing your CSD’s and DVD’s well as they say, “there is an app for that”!

A lot of “garbage” that most people would never see has been removed. More efficient code writing has yielded a system with a smaller footprint that runs faster and uses fewer resources. The only thing most people would notice is the runs faster part. Which is OK!

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What is the “Dark Web”?

The Deep and Dark Web!
DarkWebMysterious Dark Web

The so called “Surface Web” is made up of the websites you can reach from Google, Yahoo or other common search engines. It is just a small slice of the total internet. The so called “Deep Web” is made up of places that the search engines cannot find. In some cases the search engines just can’t figure out what the page is all about. In other cases the search engines are blocked and access is restricted to specific users.

Some of the deep web is encrypted and using special browser you can surf the Internet anonymously. You can communicate with other people and your identity is hidden from them as their identity is hidden from you. This is the “Dark Web” where competitors, ex-spouses, hackers, identity thieves not even the government can see what you are doing.

As you might imagine a lot of shady deals are going on here. You’ll not find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. Proceed with caution. While you can get most anything from cheap meds to murder for hire it is far more likely you will get some low life that will just take your money and disappear.

And you may be walking into a sting. Law enforcement agencies are big users of the dark web too. It really is a lot like the Wild West. But if you want secure communication that cannot be traced it is here. Careful you could be rubbing virtual elbows with terrorists, politicians, criminals or bankers. And it will be difficult to tell them apart.

If that sounds like an adventure you would like to take here is what you’ll need to see in the dark web.

Beware the power of the dark side! The force is NOT with you down here.

First you will need a special browser;

  • TOR (The Onion Router)
  • I2P (Invisible Internet Project 2)
  • Freenet (Free Network)

These are all free downloads but you can contribute a donation to the cause if you like. I have listed three of them but there are many more and new ones come up from time to time. Setting them up is not much more difficult than setting up any other browser.

The dark web is not for the faint of heart but it is not a perfect hiding place either. The TOR Browser may hide your IP address but if you do something stupid like use your real name, phone number or other such data then you are not anonymous anymore. This is often referred to as “EPICFAIL”.

Most of the transactions are in Bitcoin so you will need a Bitcoin account if you want to buy anything. Using your personal credit card would be “EPICFAIL”.

If you want to check your Yahoo mail you will have to come up to the surface to do that and now you are vulnerable. There are servers that are known entry and exit nodes or “access points” to the dark web and they can be monitored. Users can be identified as they come and go. Oh yes, a great number of these nodes are operated by various government agencies like the NSA!

The child porn people thought they would be safe hiding in the dark web. They were wrong about that! Law enforcement was reading the contents of their hard drives the whole time. Another example is the Silk Road which used to be an online marketplace for drugs (and a host of other illegal stuff) but Ross William Ulbricht is currently serving a life sentence for that.

Here are some tips for the TOR Project for staying anonymous

  1. Use the Tor Browser
  2. Don't use torrent over Tor
  3. Don't enable or install browser plugins
  4. Use HTTPS versions of websites
  5. Don't open documents downloaded through Tor while online
  6. Use bridges and/or find company

The onion routing protocol that TOR uses was originally developed in the US Department of Defense by the Naval Research Laboratory for the US Navy to protecting government communications. It is reported that other agencies are currently working on a dark web search engine.

If you are interested in “tapping into” the Dark Web let me know and we’ll setup an appointment, anonymously!

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