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Posts Tagged #Software

Posted on by Arnon Erba in News

Starting next month, Microsoft plans to use Office 365 ProPlus to push a browser extension for Google Chrome that will change users’ default search engines to Bing. Version 2002 of Office 365 ProPlus will forcibly install the Microsoft Search in Bing extension for all Chrome users who do not already use Bing as their default search engine.

Understandably, many system administrators are frustrated with the announcement, as unwanted browser extensions that change end-user settings are usually considered malware and are blocked accordingly. In fact, Microsoft’s own security tools already block dozens of programs that exhibit similar behavior.

On GitHub, users are responding to the change by opening issues in the OfficeDocs-DeployOffice repository. So far, it does not appear that Microsoft has responded to this influx of unsolicited feedback outside of publishing a blog post extolling the virtues of Bing.

Who Is Affected?

At this point, only businesses that have deployed Office 365 ProPlus are affected. Depending on the organization’s Office 365 license, ProPlus is the version of Office delivered to end-users when they install Office from the office.com portal. According to Microsoft, not all Office 365 plans include the ProPlus version of Office:

This extension is included only with Office 365 ProPlus. It isn’t included with Office 365 Business, which is the version of Office that comes with certain business plans, such as the Microsoft 365 Business plan and the Office 365 Business Premium plan.

Firefox Is Next

According to Microsoft, a similar extension for Firefox is also on the way:

Support for the Firefox web browser is planned for a later date. We will keep you informed about support for Firefox through the Microsoft 365 Admin Center and this article.

Removing The Extension

By making the extension an opt-out feature, Microsoft is putting the onus on system administrators to deploy a method for blocking its installation. While there are official ways to prevent the extension from being installed, there is no easy Microsoft-supported method for removing the extension once it has already been deployed. Instead, Microsoft recommends running the following command as an administrator on each affected machine using a script:

C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft\DefaultPackPC\MainBootStrap.exe uninstallAll

It should also be possible to blacklist the extension with the 3rd party Group Policy templates for Chrome and Firefox provided by Google and Mozilla.

Unfortunately, Group Policy and other enterprise management tools do not always apply to BYOD devices, leaving users who install Office on their personal machines with little recourse except to notice and remove the extension on their own if they find it undesirable.

Sources

Posted on by Arnon Erba in News

If you saw a headline earlier this week about a critical security flaw in VLC media player, you may not have gotten the whole story. In fact, the issue is not nearly as serious as it originally seemed.

About a month ago, a user opened a bug report for a crash in VLC caused by a specifically crafted mp4 file. With the cause of the crash still undetermined, MITRE assigned the bug a CVE identifier and gave it a “critical” score of 9.8.

With the bug’s true cause and impact still undetermined, Germany’s CERT-Bund issued an alert of their own warning of a critical flaw in VLC. Worse, because the now several-week-old VLC bug report did not list any significant progress by the VideoLAN team, CERT-Bund announced that no patch was available. The alert kicked off a flurry of other news articles that culminated in a misguided warning from Gizmodo to completely uninstall VLC.

Not a VLC Bug

The only problem was that there was never anything wrong with VLC in the first place. The crash described in the bug report was the result of a vulnerability in libEBML, a third-party library that VLC depends on. However, according to a thread on Twitter from the VideoLAN team, a patched version of libEBML has been shipped with VLC for over a year. It appears the bug report was generated from a Linux system with an older, vulnerable version of libEBML installed.

With that in mind, the CVE score was lowered to “medium” and the report in the VLC bug tracker was closed. Ubuntu released an update for libEBML, and Gizmodo withdrew their doomsday-level announcement. In the end, no patch for VLC is currently required, though some Linux distributions may need to make an updated version of libEBML available.

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Posted on by Arnon Erba in How-To Guides

Julia, the fast-moving and popular open source programming language for scientific computing, allows for the usage of multiple BLAS implementations. Pre-built Julia binaries ship with OpenBLAS due to licensing restrictions surrounding the Intel Math Kernel Library, but by building Julia from source you can replace OpenBLAS with a free copy of MKL obtained from Intel’s Yum or Apt repositories. As of the time of writing, there are instructions for this process on the Julia GitHub repository.

Determining the BLAS Vendor

Regardless of which BLAS implementation you choose, it is nice to check that Julia is actually using the one you want, especially if you are building Julia from source. In recent versions of Julia, you can run the following two commands in the Julia REPL to find your BLAS vendor:

julia> using LinearAlgebra
julia> LinearAlgebra.BLAS.vendor()

The second command should output a string indicating which BLAS implementation your Julia installation is currently built with.

Posted on by Arnon Erba in News

Rufus, the lightweight and portable program for creating bootable USB drives on Windows, has reached version 3.0. Rufus, primarily developed by Pete Batard of Akeo Consulting, remains one of the easiest and most powerful ways to create bootable USB drives on Windows. Its simple user interface is easy to navigate, and Rufus is able to create bootable USB drives from a wide variety of Windows and Linux ISO files. It supports MBR and GPT partitioning and can even be used to create bootable DOS disks.

Released on May 29th, the version 3.0 of Rufus brings a new user interface and many other changes (pulled directly from the changelog):

  • UI redesign to follow the flow of user operations (with thanks to Fahad Al-Riyami for the concept)
  • Drop Windows XP and Windows Vista platform support
  • Switch all downloads to SSL and use https://rufus.ie as the new base URL
  • Add ARM64 support for UEFI:NTFS
  • Fix delays when querying floppy drives during device enumeration
  • Improve support of efi.img files on Linux ISOs
  • Improve support for non-ISO9660 compliant openSUSE Leap ISOs
  • Improve translation support and remove manual positioning
  • Internal fixes and improvements

You can grab a copy of Rufus at its new website, https://rufus.ie/. Rufus can be run directly from the downloaded .exe file — no installation is necessary.

Posted on by Arnon Erba in How-To Guides

The easiest way to perform a direct CD-to-CD or DVD-to-DVD copy in Nero 2014 is to use Nero Express. Once you’ve opened it, select “Image, Project, Copy” from the left-hand sidebar and choose “Copy Disc.”

The next screen you see should look like this:

On this screen, there are a few options you need to make sure are enabled. First, make sure that the “Source drive” and “Destination drive” are set correctly. You’ll want to pick the drive containing your original disc for the source drive and pick the drive containing the blank disc for the destination drive. Keep in mind this only works if you have at least two CD/DVD writers/burners in your computer.

Next, make sure that “Quick copy” is checked. This will allow Nero to copy the data directly from the source drive to the destination drive without having to write to your hard drive in between.

You may also want to check “Verify data on disc after burning” in the lower half of the screen. This will have Nero check if any errors occurred during the copying process.

When you’re all finished with the settings, click “Copy” in the lower right and wait for the process to finish.

Posted on by Arnon Erba in General

If you’re ready to move up from Notepad for editing code, give Brackets a try. It’s completely free and is offered by Adobe developers. It provides a minimal but useful environment and a beautiful interface, and is designed to integrate with Adobe Extract. If you’d prefer the non-Extract integrated version, you can grab that from the Brackets site as well.

brackets