How-to: Upgrade to OS X El Capitan GM from a beta build

Apple has just released OS X 10.11 El Capitan GM, but users and developers running beta builds will not be able to upgrade directly from the App Store. In order to upgrade from a El Capitan beta build, for example, seed 15A278b to the El Capitan GM release 15A282b, you’ll need to jump through a few minor hoops first.

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Windows 10 Repair Install (in-place upgrade)

BlackPCGood news! With Windows 10, we finally see the return of the “in-place upgrade,” more commonly known as the ability to repair install!

Windows XP was the last version of Windows that had a true “repair install” option, allowing users to fix a non-working system by simply booting from their Windows XP setup CD and simply pressing ‘r’ when prompted to begin an in-place upgrade/reinstall of Windows XP that would replace damaged or missing system files, fix system misconfigurations, reset drivers, and more while retaining users’ files, applications, and settings.

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Explaining Windows 10 activation on upgrade with product keys from Windows 8 or Windows 7

blue-wallpaper_windows_10_hd_2880x1800Windows 10 is here. But unlike any other Windows release ever before, the situation with licensing and upgrades is quite different – and rather unclear. Who is entitled to a free copy of Windows 10, can you activate with your existing product key, what happens when you want to perform a clean install, how does Windows 10 activation work, who is covered by the free Windows 10 upgrade license, and more are questions going through everyone’s head.

Ever since Microsoft released Windows 10 last week, we’ve been receiving a flurry of emails pertaining to our free Product Key Tool for Windows, used to recover or retrieve the product key embedded in the BIOS/UEFI that can be used to activate a copy of whatever version of Windows your PC shipped with. And we’ve been replying to these emails on a case-by-case basis as our developers and testers have been putting Windows 10 (and by extension, its activation servers) through the works to try and figure out, all FUD aside, what really is the deal with activating Windows 10. Without further ado, here are our findings.

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Easy USB Creator 2.1 Released

Easy USB CreatorEasy USB Creator 2.1 has been released and is available for immediate download, complete with support for Windows 10, improved support for creating more-reliable bootable USB sticks than ever before, and more.

Easy USB Creator is NeoSmart Technologies’ standalone utility for converting ISO images to external drives, USB sticks, and USB thumbdrives. With Easy USB Creator, the process of using a USB drive to boot into an ISO image on PCs without a CD or DVD drive is easier than ever, with its intelligent single-click conversion process that can elegantly handle most Windows ISOs you can throw at it.

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pevents: a cross-platform Win32 events library

Threads-GitHubpevents, our implementation of Windows manual- and auto-reset events for Mac and Linux, is now officially pevents, our truly cross-platform win32 lightweight events library for Windows, Mac, Linux, and other platforms. We first released pevents way back in 2011, when we searched for and were unable to find an existing implementation of Windows events, the basic primitives for thread synchronization on Win32.

The *nix world has seen a lot of progress when it comes to non-blocking waits in recent years, but it’s very recently that purely event-driven libraries like epoll and kqueue have properly taken off. In the Windows world, it’s long-been possible to wait on filesystem and network events with WaitForMultipleObjects – a paradigm most Windows C/C++ developers are intimately familiar with. One thing that WaitForMultipleObjects (and pevents!) can also do rather neatly is wait on multiple mutexes, events, and/or semaphores simultaneously, unblocking when one or more (or all) are triggered or available.

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Answers to password reset questions are passwords too — so why aren’t we treating them that way?

identity-theftIf you’re a developer working on or maintaining a website catering to the general public, chances are you’ve implemented some form of password reset via security question-and-answer into your site. How are you storing the answers to these questions in your database? Are you encrypting them? Storing the (hopefully cryptographic, salted) hashes? Or are you storing them plain text?

I can’t answer for you, but I can tell you that I’ve never used a system that didn’t leave tell-tale signs of storing these answers in plaintext. Here’s the thing – if it’s possible to use these answers to reset a password, then these answers, by extension, are passwords too.

In some ways, answers to password reset questions are more important than the password itself. With the password, an attacker can compromise and gain control of a user’s account. With the answers to security questions, an attacker can compromise a user’s entire online and offline security, steal their identity, and quite-literally ruin their lives. Think about it, these same questions (mother’s maiden name, childhood best friend, street you grew up on, where you were on New Year’s Eve of 2000) are the same questions every site asks you to confirm your identity and reset your password. They’re the questions your telephone banker asks before divulging account info or letting you wire money to an international account. They’re the questions that you’ll be asked when applying for a credit card to prove you’re who you claim to be.

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iReboot 2.0.1 released

iReboot 2.0.1 is now available for download. This release addresses one critical issue and introduces one new feature. Under certain undetermined conditions, some versions of the .NET Framework would terminate the IPC connection between the iReboot taskbar agent and the helper service.

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Hello iReboot 2.0!

About Everyone, please say hello and welcome to iReboot 2.0! Officially under beta since May 2010, iReboot 2.0 commemorates Pi Day 2015 with the spirit of less is more and simply brings fit and finish to an already rock-solid release.

iReboot is EasyBCD’s little helper: a simple and to-the-point taskbar icon that sits in your tray and gives you a right-click menu you can use to choose which OS to boot into. Done. iReboot 2.0 is designed with function and pragmatism in mind, and we’re proud to announce that the new 2.0 release just takes it that much further.

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Life in a post-database world: using crypto to avoid DB writes

CryptoPossibly one of the biggest hurdles that stands in the way of fostering innovation and discovering newer and better techniques of doing old things is the ease with which developers and designers today can quickly research and find so-called “best practices.” While a quick Google search for “user table structure” or “best way to design password reset” can reduce (but never extinguish!) outlandish practices and horrific mistakes, it does nothing to encourage developers to think outside the box, and results in the perpetuation of less-than-optimal approaches.

To that end, there’s one thing in particular that virtually all documented approaches get wrong, and that’s writing to the database when you should be using modern cryptography instead. It might sound like a bit of a non-sequitur — after all, what does storing information have to do with cryptography when one usually exists only to supplement the other? Which is exactly right. Too often, you’ll find software writing to the database not because it needs to store something, but because it needs to guarantee something. Which is what cryptography is for.

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Shop on with Bitcoins: AMZ Bitcoin

Amazon Bitcoin

Ever wanted to shop on with bitcoin? Well, now you can. AMZ Bitcoin is a service that lets you buy gift cards in exchange for bitcoins – any value, any time.

Unlike some of the other bitcoin websites around, AMZ Bitcoin does not rely on arbitrage or a peer-to-peer purchasing system to facilitate purchases on Amazon with bitcoin. Instead, AMZ Bitcoin allows users to instantly purchase Amazon vouchers of any value, which can then be redeemed online at like cash.

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