Spreadsheets and Microsoft Excel in particular are great tools for any kind of numerical analysis, but they’re good for handling and storing other data as well. I seem to recall a survey a few years ago that Excel was the #1 database in the world with Access, Oracle and SQL Server lagging very far behind. Of course, it all depends on your definition of a database but the point is made.
Excel has useful features for developing forms and hiding information so that it’s easy to create mini apps which take user entered information, combine with data stored in the spreadsheet and provide an answer. Some of the spreadsheets are very sophisticated and Excel offers a “protect” feature that locks down a sheet (or workbooks) and prevents unwanted meddling or fiddling with the data. The protect feature even lets the owner set a password so that the more determined meddler can be thwarted and confidential data kept confidential.
Except it doesn’t. Any protected Excel spreadsheet can be unprotected in three steps. Here’s how.
With the Excel spreadsheet open,
Press Alt + F11 (or go to View Code in the Developer’s Tab)
'Breaks worksheet password protection.
Dim i As Integer, j As Integer, k As Integer
Dim l As Integer, m As Integer, n As Integer
Dim i1 As Integer, i2 As Integer, i3 As Integer
Dim i4 As Integer, i5 As Integer, i6 As Integer
On Error Resume Next
For i = 65 To 66: For j = 65 To 66: For k = 65 To 66
For l = 65 To 66: For m = 65 To 66: For i1 = 65 To 66
For i2 = 65 To 66: For i3 = 65 To 66: For i4 = 65 To 66
For i5 = 65 To 66: For i6 = 65 To 66: For n = 32 To 126
ActiveSheet.Unprotect Chr(i) & Chr(j) & Chr(k) & _
Chr(l) & Chr(m) & Chr(i1) & Chr(i2) & Chr(i3) & _
Chr(i4) & Chr(i5) & Chr(i6) & Chr(n)
If ActiveSheet.ProtectContents = False Then
MsgBox "One usable password is " & Chr(i) & Chr(j) & _
Chr(k) & Chr(l) & Chr(m) & Chr(i1) & Chr(i2) & _
Chr(i3) & Chr(i4) & Chr(i5) & Chr(i6) & Chr(n)
Next: Next: Next: Next: Next: Next
Next: Next: Next: Next: Next: Next
Press F5 (or click Run) and wait a minute or so…..hey presto, spreadsheet unprotected.
On my modest PC it takes about 80 seconds to crack the password and it seems to come up with a password such as AABBAAABBB^ which isn’t the original password but nevertheless works. Spreadsheet is now unprotected. Try it for yourself.
Shocked? Surprised? Worried about a .xls that you sent last week with confidential data in it? I’m sure lots of people would be very worried if they knew how easy it was to unprotect a sheet.
To be fair to Microsoft, the help page says, “IMPORTANT Worksheet and workbook element protection should not be confused with workbook-level password security. Element protection cannot protect a workbook from users who have malicious intent. For optimal security, you should help protect your whole workbook file by using a password.” Personally, I think setting a password sets unrealistic expectations about the level of protection; in some ways it would be better if there was no password option as there would be no expectation.
Overall, it’s best to think of protecting an Excel spreadsheet as a way of making the spreadsheet more convenient to use and don’t ever think of protecting an Excel spreadsheet as a way to hide secret information.
Getting into mobile app development often seems like a path paved with gold, but the reality is very different with many apps failing to succeed. Good apps do not simply “get lucky” but rather their developers work hard at planning a successful app. Smashing Magazine’s article “How To Succeed With a Mobile App” shows the elements needed to plan for app success.
Smashing Magazine identifies six areas to consider for a great app.
1) The Idea. Find a vaccuum or empty niche for your app.
2) Money. Plan the business model for your app.
3) Define. Write down what your app will do in one sentence and stick to it.
4) Design. If the user has to think how to use the app, you’ve failed.
5) Coding. Native, high-quality, robust code is essential.
6) Marketing. Make friends, build buzz, launch big, love your fans.
But don’t simply read the above and move on. Check out the original article by Jeremy Olson at Smashing Magazine as it has plenty of further information for would-be app coders.
KB Covers offer specialised keyboard covers for Apple Macs and MacBooks. Rather than dust covers, these are keyboard overlays which re-label for foreign languages or show keyboard shortcuts.
A good example for the former is a foreign language student who wishes to use a keyboard with the studied country’s layout and alphabet. Imagine the convenience for students of Arabic or Cyrillic languages. For software packages, the overlays highlight keyboard shortcuts to enhance productivity – it’s much faster to press “alt-f” than it is to use the mouse to select an item from a pull-down menu. All major software is covered – Photoshop, Final Cut, Media Composer, Sibelius, etc.
The overlays are a ultra-thin and made from high quality silicone. There’s a big selection of overlays for different countries and software packages. Prices are in the range $20-$40 and I think they’re great value.
Support our coverage sponsors:
Dropcam.com watch life High-Def streaming of your home or anywhere today! Gazelle - Sell your Gadgets for Cash
15% off your order @ Godaddy.com: Promo Code go15off5
50% off new hosting plans with a free domain! Promo Code: 50host7
50% off 1st year of Business Website Builder & free domain Promo Code: 50wsb7
GoDaddy Promo Codes always save you money, check out my Promo Codes Today
Posted by tomwiles at 10:42 PM on January 22, 2012
For several years, there has been a small but dedicated group of people experimenting in the world of what has been dubbed home automation. Until now, this field has been fragmented with clunky, often expensive products that don’t integrate well and often make the consumer jump through multiple hoops to even get them to work.
In a recent article I talked about installing a Nest remote-controlled thermostat in my house. The Nest thermostat has so far proven to MORE than live up to the promises made by its manufacturer. The Nest thermostat was remarkably easy to install and makes it amazingly easy to remotely monitor and control my home heating/air conditioning system via iOS or my Android smartphone. Once installed, the Nest simply works. The Nest is worth every penny of its $249 dollar price tag.
Now that I’ve lived with the Nest a while, I’m more excited than ever about the possibilities of remote monitoring, remote control, and home automation.
What I want next is a remote camera system that works with the absolute ease of the Nest thermostat and Nest app combination. The ideal remote camera system would offer at least 4 network-connected weatherproof cameras along with a controller/app system that could be set up with the no-muss, no-fuss ease that the Nest thermostat offers. I want to be able to open an app on an iOS or Android device/smartphone and have my remote camera views simply show up, perhaps with the ability to pan, zoom and tilt individual cameras if I wished right from within the app. Furthermore I don’t want to have to worry about firewalls or port-forwarding to try to get past my home router or ISP firewall
I would also like to be able to use my iOS device or Android smartphone to be able to remotely monitor my refrigerator.
Now that most of us are equipped with smartphones, I see a huge opportunity for a company or companies to step into the home automation/remote monitoring arena and fill the void. The standard to meet revolves around ease-of-use.
Posted by J Powers at 10:19 AM on October 21, 2011
Today we have application stores up the ying-yang. But 15 years ago, trying to find applications for your computer was a lot harder. We did have two decent sources: Tucows.com and download.com (a CNet company, now owned by CBS). Since then, these two sources have grown to better catalog Freeware, shareware, and paid applications. This week, we say Happy anniversary to Download.com.
While the domain was registered on February 24, 1996, Download.com will officially launch on October 23rd, 1996 (Reference via CNet article). Since then, the website sees almost 10 million downloads of software a week. The top downloads being AVG and Avast antivirus software. A long cry from Hey, Macaroni (the dancing macaroni meme), WinZip 32 and Duke Nukem 3D – which was the most downloaded in 1996. WinZip is still one of the top 5 download pieces of software on the site.
For 15 years, download.com has kept a great archive of software, weeding out the obsolete, malware producing items. They have been sued for some software downloads, most notably the free music download program LimeWire. While download.com did not promote the download of mp3 music or movies, the peer-to-peer software is another way to download legally shared items. Of course, this has always been the conundrum of file sharing.
In retrospect, TuCows has been in operation since 1994, offering the same services. Other services have come and gone, but download.com has stayed strong. So happy 15 years to a source that I’ve personally used many a time from my IT career.
Posted by tomwiles at 8:33 AM on September 27, 2011
Tweaking Google Latitude With Latify
Google Latitude is a nifty, fun add-on utility for Google Maps that can be very useful for tracking friends and family. With Latitude, it’s possible to share real-time location information from devices such as supported Android and iOS phones and tablets. Location sharing is by permission only – any mutual Latitude friends must specifically grant permission for location information to be shared.
I’ve been making use of Latitude for a few years. I’ve got a number of friends and relatives that follow my location as I travel around the country as an over-the-road truck driver. Even after all this time, I’m still surprised that some people are curious enough about my location that some of them will check on me multiple times a day.
One of the things I’ve long wished for in Latitude is much greater control over the sharing. Most of the time I want my shared location information to be as accurate and real-time as possible. Thus, it becomes possible for Latitude friends and family to track me as I drive down the road in real-time.
Recently I purchased a $2.89 program available in the Android Marketplace called Latify. The Latify program works in conjunction with Latitude to provide a lot of extra control over Latitude and its sharing capabilities.
With Latify set to push out the most accurate, real-time location information possible it does use more battery power, as it is making more intensive use of the phone’s GPS chip. This isn’t a problem for me, since most of the time I keep the phone plugged in when I’m in my truck. In those instances when the phone is going to be running on battery power for hours on end, I turn off automatic data synching. There are also a number of power-saving options available within Latify itself.
If you want a way to share the most accurate, real-time GPS location of your phone with Latitude friends, at $2.89 Latify is worth the money.
Evernote is probably the most popular online note-taking application. With versions for computers (both Windows and Mac) and mobile versions for Android, iOS, Blackberry, Windows Phone, and WebOS, the app is virtually everywhere. There is a free version and a Premium version, but the free version previously limited users to only being able to include text, image, audio and PDF files in their notes.
Today, Evernote announced that the restriction has now been removed and free account users can include any type of file in their notes. “The reason we lifted our file restriction is that we want to allow our users to store everything related to an experience or memory in a single, visual, searchable place.”
The other restrictions for free accounts still apply – there’s a 25 MB file size limit for notes and a 60 MB upload limit per month. Evernote is promising that there are a lot more innovations “in the works”. If you aren’t familiar with, or haven’t tried, the service, you can visit Evernote to check it out.
If you or a friend have been conned into installing one of the fake anti-virus tools that has been doing the round recently, you’ll be delighted to hear that G Data are offering a free tool to remove the most prevalent type of scareware, “System Tool”.
Many of us will have seen those pop-ups claiming that our PCs have been infected and most of us will have dismissed them for the scams that they are. However, some people are taken in and G Data has seen an increase of 35% over the past 15 months in this type of fake AV. And if you are taken in, it’s a double whammy, with the criminals getting your credit card details while your PC remains under their control for further malicious activity.
“The development and deployment of scareware has become a highly profitable business. Fake antivirus programs have a double benefit for cyber criminals: they receive money from users who purchased a ‘full version’ of their useless tools and they get hold of the victims’ credit card data. To make matters worse: the fake AV programs often also put online criminals in a position that allows them to download additional malware onto their victims’ computers”, explains Eddy Willems, Security Evangelist at G Data.
The instructions for running the cleaner program is:
1. Download G Data FakeAV Cleaner from the G Data website: http://www.gdatasoftware.co.uk/support/downloads/tools.html. It’s down at the bottom of the page.
2. Run the G Data FakeAV Cleaner setup file. The G Data FakeAVCleaner “System Tool” has to be executed with the Windows user account that is infected. As the FakeAV “System Tool” shuts down all user initiated programs which do not have any kind of reserved name, like explorer.exe, winlogon.exe or svchost.exe and many more, the file name for the G Data FakeAVCleaner is svchost.exe
3. Reboot the computer to finalise the installation.
If you are interested in the background to this kind of threat, G Data have a complementary blog post discussing some of the issues and demonstrates a scareware infection.
Up until today I had sort of discounted Chrome OS as a potential game changer, but after spending an hour watching their keynote tonight I can honestly say it is quite amazing to look at all of the pieces of the puzzle come together in a multi-billion dollar chess match that has Apple and Microsoft lined up against them.
But one thing in my household has really changed what I think of Cloud computing. I can count on one hand how many times my wife has had to use her Mac Book Pro in the past year since I purchased her a iPad. She simply loves the device and even canceled her phones data plan and only uses the iPad for the high majority of her computing needs.
My bet is the Chrome OS echo system is going to explode over the next 12 months and that a huge number of start-ups are going to get funded that do nothing but build applications for Chrome OS.
While I doubt that I will ever be able to walk away from using a powerful desktop or laptop but even I find myself in the cloud a lot more than I used to. This video is very compelling. But I can tell you what I will be buying on June 15th and it will be a Chrome OS laptop.
One thing as well Chrome OS developers are going to be very busy!
Since the advent of the VCR, the adage has been to look to the pornography industry to see what would happen – which formats would take off, what business models might work, etc., etc., etc. While the pornography industry did seem to be the first on the block to figure out how to make e-commerce work, do they still lead the way today when it comes to the future of video?
While there is a certain profession that perhaps lays claim to be the oldest, right up there with it is the art of the sale, and the pastime of shopping. The shopping experience itself if done well can be a pleasure.
QVC, HSN and other home shopping channels excel at making the shopping experience itself the content. They make no pretense – they are right up front with the fact that their channels are all about advertising.
Many people claim to hate ads, but I’d contend I that it’s really bad ads that most people despise. Advertising that is well done is informative and entertaining and can even be enjoyable. Watching QVC, HSN, ShopNBC, etc. product presentations (particularly electronics, gadgets and sometimes cooking) can for me easily fall into the guilty pleasure category. These people are masters at the art of the sale. Who doesn’t enjoy (or cannot learn from) watching a master ply his craft?
So how are the home shopping channels handling their all-important online presence? QVC and HSN both have iOS and Android apps that make it possible to watch their current live video streams, as well as easily search their catalogs, as well as place and track orders. The ShopNBC app is a fail in that it doesn’t allow you to watch the live video stream. I’d give the nod to QVC’s app as being the most advanced and usable overall.