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Meltdown and Spectre January 10, 2018

Posted by Steven in In-Media.
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Initially I was hesitant to post about these low level flaws in today’s computing architectures. But I learned over the past days that these flaws are too big and the impact to vast to not write about them.

What is happening / what flaws? So in my own words: Researchers discovered new security holes and described scary hacking scenarios. These attack scenarios focus on the fact, that everything that a PC or smart device works on is saved in memory. Memory areas are kept separate (generally by tech built into your CPU and your operating system). But there are also techniques that allow to jump between memory areas (kind-of). These incredibly smart and complex technologies can be attacked as we know now. So some complex malware running in your browser could theoretically access memory data used by your password manager. That’s surely not what you want. But to put a disclaimer on this statement: You i.e. the user would have to get this malware and actually run it (under favorable conditions as described in the researchers works) – so what I’ve heard all the time is, that the attack scenarios are highly theoretical and that computer systems in the cloud are more likely to get attacked (as opposed to your personal laptop).

With this post I wanted to make people aware that this is really a big issue. It is a low level attack scenario on the CPU / RAM level. It affects many many kinds of devices – old and new ones. It is hard to patch.

I wanted to gather some ‘good’ sources here to help you read more details:


I started reading about these attacks around 31st of December 2017. Intel may have been aware of the issue since July 2017. And in my view the media did not really know how to explain and talk about these attack scenarios. Just this week I started seeing simple logos and more adequate explanations and videos about these complex topics. I had a look at meltdownattack.com and I found great resources including the logos. Thanks for allowing free use of these logos and full image credit goes to designer: Natascha Eibl.


HEIF HEIC Converter for Windows December 13, 2017

Posted by Steven in Apple, Software.
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Apple seems to be aware that local storage on iPhones is mostly scarce. Recent iOS releases brought a number of improvements and more transparency regarding the storage management on iOS and iCloud.

I was quite surprised that Apple did not only pull of a couple of tricks regarding the display and management of storage but it even thought about the file formats that take up most of the space on an iPhone. For many people the storage fills up quickly by taking a lot of pictures. Apple looked at the way photos are stored (usually in .JPG format) and jumped in to change that format on iPhones.

The new modern file format  HEIF was specially designed by Apple to efficiently store a lot of photos and save this precious storage space.

Now the downside of this great change is – that the format and the usage of this efficient image storage system is right now an isolated Apple thing. iPhones do a good job in letting you post to Instagram and Facebook – handling the conversions in the background. But when you use old fashioned cables to access or copy files off your phone than you might get stuck with a file that your Computer can’t open.

To solve this some free tools are available: For Windows have a look at:


And for Macs there are also free tools available: https://imazing.com/heic

My view: give it a try and fear not: the move to efficient image formats is surely a great move for users. More space on your device.. more features like these neat live photos and just a bit of getting used to in your daily workflows.


Windows 10 Activation Technology January 8, 2017

Posted by Steven in Software.
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Microsoft attempted to make a lot of things very easy and straight forward with Windows 10. This operating system of the cloud-age is supposed to be a no brainer for everyone. Easy to upgrade, initially offered as a free upgrade and not to forget fast and safe for everyday use.

When I recently contemplated the upgrade to Windows 10 for an older living-room PC myself I found some aspects that are quite complicated. Thus today I’d like to talk about Activation.

I believe Microsoft’s intention was to make the upgrade process very smooth end easy for everyone. However this lead to more activation options and to an more complex situation overall if things go wrong.

More Activation Options

  • Microsoft provides a nice overview here: https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/12440/windows-10-activation
  • Today there are two activation routes (Windows setup will chose which one fits your situation).
  • First possible route: Digital Entitlement / Digital License
    • Rule of thumb: everyone who used an activated previous version of windows and took Microsoft’s offer for a free upgrade will get a digital license.
    • There are other cases where the setup will chose digital license (explained in detail by Microsoft)
    • So what is a digital license? Basically it is a digital marker, a license which microsoft creates when you use one of the free upgrade offers or when you are a windows insider. In order to fix issues with that methodology Microsoft has built a functionality to link your digital license with your Microsoft account (and this should help with re-activating Windows after hardware change).
    • Additionally it is important to understand: The digital license is build in such a way so that it is tied to your current hardware configuration
  • Second is the classic Product Key Method
    • What is it and when will it be used?
    • It seems quite obvious: the other more expensive ways to get Windows will in most cases use a Product Key and the classic transfer of some PC data and product key to Microsoft for activation. These more expensive ways include: buying a Windows 10 copy, buying a digital download for Windows 10 or getting Windows 10 with a new Laptop.
    • With the Product key that you acquired there should be no issue re-activating Windows.

As you can see the different routes may make for more options and maybe more issues when changing hardware. The following links can also provide some guidance if you run into issues:

License FAQ

Versus. Background Info

Preparing for hardware change

Windows 10 Setup Considerations when using a free upgrade


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