Saturday, July 6, 2013

Solving Windows 8 Drag n' Drop issue

I came across an with Drag n' Drop (DnD) lately on Windows 8 and Firefox that really annoyed me, so I hope this post will help others out there who face the same issue.

Drag n' Drop onto Firefox
Beginning of the "story"
Few weeks ago, I accidentally changed Firefox launch properties to 'Run As Administrator' which caused any drag and drop of a file from Windows File Explorer onto Firefox to stop working. I was able to drag from File Explorer, but once the mouse was hovering Firefox, a "wrong way"cursor appeared signaling that dropping a file or a picture onto the browser was not possible.

'Run as administrator' option
Since it was not an intentional decision to make Firefox to always run as admin, I didn't think of linking the issue to that when I tried a DnD a file weeks later.

In addition, DnD on Google Chrome or Internet Explorer was working, so I thought it was a Firefox specific issue. I researched Mozilla forums, disabled all add-ons in Firefox, created a  fresh Firefox profile, created a Windows profile, installed older versions of Firefox. Nothing! I broadened my research to DnD in Windows, not specifically for Firefox, that's when I found pointers to settings in process privileges being the cause of the DnD issues.

So what happened?
With Windows Vista, Microsoft introduced User Account Control (UAC) and other security elements in its OS to enhance security by preventing malware from getting administrator privileges by inheriting

My understanding from all of this (take it with a grain of salt and research further of you want) is that DnD problem I faced is related to differences of process privileges level between Firefox 'Running as Administrator', a higher privilege than Windows File Explorer level.

So basically I was stuck with one application with lower privileges (File Explorer) trying to drop a file into a higher privilege application (Firefox running as admin). The tricky part is that Windows File Explorer process privileges level cannot be set or changed. At least, I didn't find an easy way to do it, or do I think it's the right thing to do from security perspective.

There are at least two options in Windows 8 to solve similar DnD issue related to process privileges:

Solution A: Run your application at normal privileges level (recommended)

  • To do so, right-click on the icon of your application (e.g. Firefox) then select Properties
  • In the Properties window, uncheck the option 'Run this program as an administrator'

Disable 'Run As Administrator'

Solution B: Change group policy to disable UAC (not recommended)

  • Open Windows 'Run' command window. You can do that by searching in Windows 8 search for 'Run'
  • Type and enter gpedit.msc in the 'Run' window to open Local Group Policy Editor
  • Go to 'Local Computer Policy > Windows Settings > Security Settings > Local Policies > Security Options'
  • Change the setting User Account Control: Run all administrators in Admin Approval Mode to Disabled

For security considerations and because you will disable any Windows 8 Modern application from running, I do not recommend this option. Click on screenshots below to view the different steps:





Windows 8 UAC disabled, this app can't open


If you want to learn more about UAC and related User Interface Privilege Isolation (UIPI), here's a interesting page to read on MSDN blog:
http://blogs.msdn.com/b/patricka/archive/2010/01/28/q-why-doesn-t-drag-and-drop-work-when-my-application-is-running-elevated-a-mandatory-integrity-control-and-uipi.aspx

Friday, June 7, 2013

More details on NSA PRISM

The full leaked NSA PRISM document can be view on The Washington Post website
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/special/politics/prism-collection-documents/

Al Gore's tweet on the topic

Hey NSA, intercept this: FUCK YOU!

I'm always amazed by how Obama's administration gets away with "crime" when it comes to civil liberties, including a pass by leftist media. The latest example is the ILLEGAL data mining by the NSA of Internet companies servers to go through personal emails and other documents. Yes, it is ILLEGAL inside the U.S., and it does set participating tech companies in violation of their commitments to users in other countries, especially in the European Union!

Screenshot of the leaked NSA document on PRISM (The Guardian)
If it was G.W. Bush's administration, for whom I have no sympathy, The New York Times, MSNBC and other so-called (leftist) journalists would be all over it, but of course, it's Obama, everything is OK because he smiles at press conferences.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jun/06/us-tech-giants-nsa-data
NSA taps in to user data of Google, Skype and others, secret files reveal• Top secret PRISM program claims direct access to servers of firms including Google, Facebook and Apple• Companies deny any knowledge of program in operation since 2007
Support the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU):
https://www.aclu.org/secure/stop-massive-spying-program

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Best movies & docs on 2008 financial meltdown

During the drama of the last few months around the fiscal cliff in the U.S., Europe bailout of Greece, I felt a 'déjà vu' from Summer of 2008 and the near collapse of the global financial system. Over the years, there were several books, articles, movies and documentaries relating the events and the build-up of the housing bubble and the painful recession that resulted and ruined the lives of hundreds of millions around the World.

As a 'cinéphile' (movie buff), here is my selection of some of the movies and documentaries on the topic; some more interesting than others, but all together give a very insightful portrayal of what happened and all the protagonists involved.
Inside Job
Inside Job
© Sony Classics Pictures 2010




Inside Job
This documentary is by far the best in my opinion to relate the events leading to the bubble of 2008 and the fall of Lehman Brothers and the handling of the crisis by several government stakeholders.

Co-written and directed by the excellent Charles Ferguson, narrated by Matt Damon, the documentary won the Academy Award for best documentary in 2011.






Too Big Too Fail
This is an HBO feature film, adaptation of Andrew Sorkin's excellent book. While the book provides slightly more details about the background of each protagonist, the movie renders very well the events and the urgency driving the events, served by an amazing cast, especially William Hurt as Hebrt Paulson (Treasury Secretary) and James Woods as Dick Fuld (Lehman Brothers). Full cast on imdb.com. Great work of documentation and cinema. I highly recommend it.








The Flaw
The Flaw (2011)



The Flaw
This documentary takes a historical approach to dissect the American Capitalistic system to explain its excesses and the crisis of 2008, very bright and interesting minds are interviewed in this documentary. Worth watching.




CBC Docs: Meltdown

The public Canadian broadcaster CBC aired in 2011 this documentary series in 4 weekly one hour episodes. A good synthesis of the events, similar to Inside Job, with a little bit more details since they had time. Meltdown is available to watch online in Canada only (copyrights restrications). Here is an overview of the episodes:
http://www.cbc.ca/doczone/meltdown/about.html




Capitalism: A Love Story 
This is probably the weakest link of the list, but I wanted to add it because it had some good exposure and Michael Moore films are always funny to watch as entertainment, not as facts-backed documentary. As much as I hated biased Fox News right wing propaganda, I can't stand Moore's; same applies to MSNBC leftist business.











My decade of mobile phones

2012 marked for me ten years of usage of mobile phones. It's a good opportunity to have a list of devices I used over the years as a reminder of the evolution of these devices that have become such a big part of our daily lives.
Nokia 3310
Nokia 3310
Nokia 3310
This was my first cell phone. I purchased it in 2002 in Montreal, with a 2-year contract with Fido (before the company was acquired by Rogers). The phone was released by Nokia late 2000. Here are the specifications of the 3310:
  • Dimensions: 113x48x22 mm  (HxWxD)
  • Weight: 133g
  • Screen: 84x84 pixels pure monocrhome
  • Networks support: GSM, TDMA
Motorola V551
Motorola V551
Motorola V551
My second cell phone was a gift I received end of 2004, it was a V551 flip phone by Motorola. I loved the flip cover! Here are the specs:
  • Dimensions: 87x44x23 mm  (HxWxD)
  • Weight: 121g
  • Screen: 176x220 TFT Color 65k
  • Camera: VGA 640x480 color 
  • Networks support: GSM quadband

BlackBerry 8700r
BlackBerry 8700r
My First BlackBerry!
In 2007, I moved to Toronto for a new job where I received my first BlackBerry device at work, the 8700r (aka Electron) on Rogers network. This was the first time I was able to access my emails on the go, and it was a great feeling of not having to be connected to a PC to check my messages, at least my work emails. It also introduced a major change in my behavior, creating a "need" to be connected, even on the go, something I've been trying (with relative success) to keep under control.
  • Dimensions: 87x44x23 mm  (HxWxD)
  • Weight: 134g
  • Screen: 320x240 Color (2.6 inches)
  • Camera: VGA 640x480 color
  • Networks support: GSM, EDGE, CDMA

BlackBerry Curve 8300
BlackBerry Curve 8300
BlackBerry Curve 8300
This was by far the device I've kept the longest. Another phone provided by my company in 2008, and I used it until 2011 for work. BlackBerry OS was still decent at the time, but I started to feel embarrassed when I was with friends and family members using an iPhone 3G! Still, it did what it was supposed to do: phone + emails. The other reason I kept it was because iPhone devices were not approved by my company IT department and I didn't want to carry two devices. Here are the specs (from GSMArena.com):
  • Dimensions: 107x60x15.5 mm  (HxWxD)
  • Weight: 111g
  • Screen: 320x240 Color (2.5 inches)
  • Camera: 2MP (still and video)
  • Networks support: GSM, EDGE, CDMA

BlackBerry Torch 9800
BlackBerry Torch 9800
BlackBerry Torch 9800
Early 2011, I decided to no longer carry my work phone after hours; that's when I chose to buy my first personal smartphone. I was divided between switching to iPhone or stay with BlackBerry, especially that I wanted a touch screen and I started to feel frustrated with lack of apps on BlackBerry and awful slow software and browser on the phone. The main reasons to stick with BlackBerry at the time were: BlackBerry Messenger that I was using with friends and family around the World, iPhone 4 "antennagate" but most important for me at the time, a physical keyboard. Torch 9800 was a good improvement integrating a good touchscreen technology and decent browser. But that's the issue, everything was decent, but not great, and yet, the prices were not much cheaper than an iPhone.

This marked a consumer mistake I made of signing a 3 years contract with TELUS, which I regretted later when better plans were on the market. Never again contracts for a device. Here are the specs for Torch 9800:
  • Dimensions: 111x62x14.6 mm  (HxWxD)
  • Weight: 161g
  • Screen: 360x480 Color (3.2 inches)
  • Camera: 5MP  still, VGA @24fps video
  • Networks support: 3G, EDGE, GSM, CDMA


BlackBerry Torch 9810
BlackBerry Torch 9810
BlackBerry Torch 9810
This was my third work phone. I received it in 2011. Minor upgrade from 9800, adding HSPA+ to the device. When BlackBerry 6 was out, only 9810 was able to handle WiFi Hotspot support. Specs can be found on GSMArena.

BlackBerry Bold 9790
BlackBerry Bold 9790

BlackBerry Bold 9790
This was my last BlackBerry! It was a personal device I purchased in June 2012 after I lost my Torch 9800 in a cab from the airport after a business trip to Europe. This phone (specs on GSMArena) was light, had a touchscreen, but multiple pocket calls, awful software, lack of apps just had it for me. I guess I stayed with BlackBerry for that long because the pride of RIM was a Canadian company. As a consumer, I regret it a bit, I'm so happy with my iPhone 5. Thanks Steve Jobs!

iPhone 5
iPhone 5