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5 Pitfalls of User-Generated Content (And How to Avoid Them)

User Generated Content, as the name suggests, is content which is submitted by consumers, customers, clients and visitors to a website. It can come in many forms, from comments to embedded tweets, open-submissions and reviews.

It brings with it a host of benefits. UGC can greatly increase engagement with websites, as well as shareability and authenticity. Of course, along with benefits are a host of pitfalls, from having to take the time to moderate content, to establishing an engaged community to submit the content in the first place. It’s important to know the pitfalls of user generated content and how they can be avoided. With a clear strategy, and contingency plan in place, it can end up being a very successful and profitable way of driving engagement to a website.

Here are the pitfalls of user-generated content and how to fix them.

 

1. It Needs To Be Moderated

In an ideal world, all user generated content would stick to the rules and adhere to the site’s standards. Sadly, that’s not the case. Users will upload whatever they like, from inappropriate sites, to offensive words, or totally irrelevant content.

How To Avoid It

Ensure you build in features where content can be moderated. For example, review companies such as TripAdvisor rely on pre-moderation. This means that all reviews which are submitted are sent through a screening process before being put live for everyone to see. This can take a couple of days to sift through depending on the levels of content which has been uploaded, but ensures the site holds its reputation and doesn’t post offensive, random or meaningless content.

You can also implement functions for the UX of a site which means users can report content themselves. This is the system many large companies such as Facebook and Instagram have built in. The pros of this is that content is available instantly for other users to see and engage with but means unwanted content can also get through.

 

2. People Use It For Their Own Personal Gain

Once user generated content begins to roll in, it can soon increase the site’s popularity, raise the share count, and have numerous benefits. And this will be something others will latch onto. Users can submit their own content for personal gain, rather than that of the site. For example, a competitor could be promoting a service or running a competition and pretend to be a random user to publicise and promote their own products or services.

How To Avoid It

This comes under careful moderation again, but instead of just looking out for offensive or inappropriate content, you look at the context of what has been submitted and whether it’s for personal gain of the contributor. It’s worth adding in code so that any links submitted, automatically default to “no-follow.” Otherwise you’ll have people uploading content purely for a backlink to their own site. Also check the links they are submitting, where they are pointing to and if they are promoting, selling or advertising anything. You can build in a script that picks up certain keywords and blocks them from appearing or flags up certain comments. This can be a useful feature to easily filter through the genuine and the spam content.

 

3. You Need An Engaged Community To Continuously Generate New Content

It can take a while for a community to become engaged and known enough to submit content. Many companies rely on user generated content as part of their marketing strategy, yet don’t account for the initial time taken to gather loyal readers and contributors. With no users, there will be no user-submitted content. Simple, but true.

How To Avoid It

Get people to know the company and build a loyal following before requesting content. If those wanting to submit something stumble across your site and see it is under-developed, you have hardly any social media followers and no presence, they won’t see the worth in submitting anything. Build a solid base and learn what motivates people to want to submit content and get them excited about joining part of your community. Users want to have their work, ideas and submissions featured on an aesthetically pleasing site that has been well-designed and feels premium. Ensure plenty of thought has gone into the design process of the look of the site, as well as making the user journey to actually submit the content an easy one. People that find the process easy and rewarding will be likely to return and recommend it to others.

 

4. Copyright Infringement

With an in-house content creation team, submissions usually have to go through a process before they reach publication. They will be checked, assets confirmed as royalty-free and they will have a knowledge of what you can and what you can’t do. By allowing users to submit content you can be opening yourself to a myriad of copyright infringements on everything from duplicate content to image usage.

How To Avoid It

To avoid receiving a hefty copyright infringement lawsuit in your inbox, it’s important you put certain steps into place. With user generated content there are many questions about who is liable for third-party content if it turns out to be false, improper or harmful; unless you make it clear initially, the blame could fall on the website owner. Ensure you have a contract and guidelines in place that stipulates any content users submit is their own responsibility and they are liable should any issues arise. Make guidelines that states images should be royalty-free and available for re-use before they submit them.

 

5. Unverified Sources Can Damage Website Credibility

When users are free to submit whatever content they like, there is bound to be a fair amount of fake news. You can never really know who every person who submits something is, nor where they are getting their facts and statements from. Negative comments or sources can damage a brand, particularly when other users have no way of knowing if the contributor is trustworthy or not. After all, “If it’s on the internet, it must be true…”

How To Avoid It

Many sites have come across issues with this, with popular social media sites having many users create fake profiles of companies or celebrities. This can be very damaging to a brand and is why it is an idea to have verified users. Twitter and Instagram are known by the well-recognised blue tick which ensures other users know exactly who is posting content. Other sites such as Waze and TripAdvisor award badges to those who are loyal and regular contributors. Not only does this give an incentive to continually contribute, but other users (and moderators) know they are more trustworthy and less likely to post spam or malicious content that could damage the reputation of a site.

 

Featured image via Unsplash.



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How to avoid collaboration burnout

Collaboration tools are pervasive in the enterprise, but less so are practices for smartly managing the flow of information created in them, according to researchers and tech leaders who find these tools often lead to overload and burnout.

Anyone adding a new workplace chat app, for instance, could pick from dozens of options, and that’s part of the problem. They’re powerful tools for working across teams, time zones and distance. But the volume and velocity of the demands created, and the diversity of channels employees are expected to constantly monitor are wearing people out, said Rob Cross, a professor of global leadership at Babson College. 

[ Related: 14 Microsoft Teams apps to help you work smarter ]

“Collaborative overload feels good right up until it doesn’t, Cross said. “You’re the king of the world. These drivers that you have personally taken on – accomplishment or status or helping – are being met right up until burnout. And then it’s really hard to get out because of the demands you put on yourself.”

Cross says he has interviewed dozens of successful business leaders who often say they’re stretched too thin across multiple apps for chat, email and meetings. 

“You’re hearing stories that they’re overwhelmed,” Cross said. “They’re managing across nine of these platforms: Slack or Teams channels, IM, video, work management systems, gratitude recognition systems.”

[ Related: How to combine project management and collaboration ]

Cross said the problem is especially noticeable in high-performing managers.  

“These may ultimately be great tools, but all these technologies that are presumably making things faster are not really doing that,” Cross said. “Especially for managers who are all in on their careers, where people are counting on them. Nobody’s addressing the tax that’s being placed on people. There’s no chief collaborative overload officer. It always falls to the individual to figure it out, ‘How do I create some semblance of work and life?’”

“Collaboration app fatigue is real,” says Sébastien Ricard, CEO at LumApps. “It’s no

 

Collaboration tools are pervasive in the enterprise, but less so are practices for smartly managing the flow of information created in them, according to researchers and tech leaders who find these tools often lead to overload and burnout.

Anyone adding a new workplace chat app, for instance, could pick from dozens of options, and that’s part of the problem. They’re powerful tools for working across teams, time zones and distance. But the volume and velocity of the demands created, and the diversity of channels employees are expected to constantly monitor are wearing people out, said Rob Cross, a professor of global leadership at Babson College. 

[ Related: 14 Microsoft Teams apps to help you work smarter ]

“Collaborative overload feels good right up until it doesn’t, Cross said. “You’re the king of the world. These drivers that you have personally taken on – accomplishment or status or helping – are being met right up until burnout. And then it’s really hard to get out because of the demands you put on yourself.”

Cross says he has interviewed dozens of successful business leaders who often say they’re stretched too thin across multiple apps for chat, email and meetings. 

“You’re hearing stories that they’re overwhelmed,” Cross said. “They’re managing across nine of these platforms: Slack or Teams channels, IM, video, work management systems, gratitude recognition systems.”

[ Related: How to combine project management and collaboration ]

Cross said the problem is especially noticeable in high-performing managers.  

“These may ultimately be great tools, but all these technologies that are presumably making things faster are not really doing that,” Cross said. “Especially for managers who are all in on their careers, where people are counting on them. Nobody’s addressing the tax that’s being placed on people. There’s no chief collaborative overload officer. It always falls to the individual to figure it out, ‘How do I create some semblance of work and life?’”

“Collaboration app fatigue is real,” says Sébastien Ricard, CEO at LumApps. “It’s no surprise that more choice leads to higher levels of stress. This has been studied by consumer behavior specialists. It’s no different in the workplace. Employees today are more reachable than ever, which sets expectations that they have to respond to every communication right away.”

Tim Mulron, CEO at Teaming, said he sees an over reliance on collaboration tools that’s sometimes coupled with a lack of direction. 

“Ensuring that the mission of the team is clear, that the priorities are understood and we have agreement on how we operate eliminates a lot of unnecessary asynchronous communication,” Mulron said. “While it’s important that colleagues feel free to share, maintaining safe spaces is key to facilitating team engagement and team performance. Virtual collaboration tools should be used in moderation, like everything else. Just because you can message a colleague at 4 a.m., it doesn’t mean you should.”

[ Related: 4 tips for picking the right collaboration suite  ]

Cross’ research found that collaboration takes up about 85 percent of a manager’s time, about twice what was required in the previous decade. He says another issue that exacerbates the problem is an increasing interdependence between teams of all kinds.

“Throw in time zones and globalization, that’s a big deal in terms of the way in which we have to collaborate more globally,” Cross said. “The interdependence of work has gone up as well, the complexity of what people are producing, whether it’s a car, drug, a consulting project or a financial transaction. There are more and more specialties that have to collaborate to produce these products. It’s really a whole slew of these things that’s not going away.”

Mike Hicks, vice president of marketing and strategy at Igloo Software, said he sees overloaded employees and leadership teams, who are either missing important messages or getting more than they can be expected to handle. “Neither scenario is ideal,” Hicks says, “and it leads to low employee engagement, and decreased productivity, which are both keys signs of virtual collaboration burnout.”

Signs of collaboration burnout

One likely indicator of overload is when collaboration and consensus are tied at the hip, and paralyze the decision-making process. “It’s great that collaboration tools give a voice to everyone, but someone still needs to decide when enough dialogue is enough,” Mulron said. ”Collaboration tools are only as good as the teams who use them and the norms they’ve defined about getting work done and how they make decisions. Productivity is a trailing indicator of good business decisions – decisions being the operative word.”

Cross worries that collaboration burnout can be hard to spot because it builds over time rather than, as some might expect, in a series of surges.

“Over months or years, people just work a little harder,” Cross says, “a little deeper into the night and they eventually hit a threshold where they can’t keep up. They start to stress. Their creativity goes down and their negative reactions go up. You see people not fully engaged in meetings and you have to wonder how much coordination is actually happening, when you see them racing in and out of things and not executing. It can be a big deal.”

Some organizations are attempting to bring agile practices to address the problem. But Cross said they often find that the actual bottleneck in productivity occurs not from the tools themselves, but where a handful of connected employees are handling a disproportionate number of demands. And that still occurs after creating new workstreams. “You end up taking people out of existing workstreams and then putting them somewhere else,” he said. “But their old connections keep coming to them – they still have to get answers to keep things going. It creates significant overload in the system around some of your best players. How do you systematically shift those demands? What we find is that it’s much more about managing yourself than it is about the technology.”

Solutions to avoid burnout

Cross said most organizations aren’t taking stock of the types of demands being put on workers through collaboration tools and no one is tracking the amount of time spent using them. 

“The really important thing is that it’s invisible as across organizations,” he said, “and until we get better at kind of seeing, OK, if we adapt Slack or Teams or Cisco’s product or whatever, what’s the actual impact on that pattern of connectivity and is it driving the results we want? Or is it having unintended consequences?”

The most effective collaborators Cross speaks with apply time management techniques that fit their work style to keep from being constantly distracted by collaboration. “Technology can help a little bit, but it’s not a technical issue. It’s more of a cultural and work management solution.”

Some people get email out of the way first thing in the morning, he says, while others focus on reflective work first then block out 30-minute segments for email. They’ll accept meeting invites but insist on a hard stop at half an hour rather than an hour. And they make sure meetings are focused, with agendas circulated beforehand and an email after to recap and establish next steps. 

“They proactively shape their roles,” Cross said, “so that they don’t have people kind of continually pushing them back into collaborative demand.”



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5 Mistakes to Avoid Destruction

You hopefully aren’t wondering how to destroy a laptop so that you can actively ruin your machine. But it’s a good idea to know the most common sources of laptop damage so you can keep yours as long as possible.

Because we carry laptops around more than a desktop computer, they’re more prone to accidents and hardware failure. Luck is part of the equation, but let’s look at how how to break a laptop over time with a few common mistakes. If you abuse your laptop in these ways, it could fail early before you can even notice it.

1. How to Kill a Laptop With Excess Heat

Laptops generate a lot of heat. Processors are more power-efficient than ever, and the average temperature of a PC has dropped over time. However, many laptops will still become warm to the touch when stressed.

A fan (or another source of cooling) must expel this internal heat, and it’s your responsibility to keep the fan vent clear. If it’s obstructed, the heat has nowhere to go. Instead, it will get stuck around your laptop’s critical components. Eventually, your laptop will reach a dangerous temperature


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and overheat.

Some laptops react to this and will shut down automatically. But others will suffer through the heat as they slowly bake to death.

Furniture, carpets, and blankets are all surfaces that can wreak havoc. Wherever you place your laptop, make sure the vent has a clear path to do its job. Even a pile of books that’s too close to your laptop can cause problems.

This isn’t the only source of heat. Over time, dust can build up inside your machine and clog up the fan and internal airways. If you’ve had your computer for years, it’s worth cleaning your laptop


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to remove this debris inside.

Be proactive and pay attention to your laptop’s fan volume. If it sounds like a jet engine, and your computer is not involved in a demanding task (like gaming or video encoding), consider it a cry for help.

2. How to Ruin Your Laptop’s Hard Disk Drive

Many laptops now include a solid-state drive (SSD). Since SSDs don’t have internal moving parts, they’re more resilient to motion. However, many older and cheaper laptops still have a mechanical hard disk drive (HDD). These can take damage if they’re rattled too much.

This problem with a spinning hard drive is due to its use of moving parts. HDDs have a read/write head that must move to interact with the disk, which spins. These parts have their own inertia, so if you move your laptop while they are active, they’ll try to move along their original direction. This can cause contact between internal hard disk components, which in turn could cost you your data.

You can reduce the risk by only adjusting your laptop gently and not moving it when running a program that frequently accesses the hard drive. Treat your laptop gently, with no quick movements. Even if your computer has an SSD, you should know the signs of SSD failure


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to detect problems early.

3. How to Damage Your Laptop by Mishandling It

If you’re wondering how to spoil a good laptop quickly, try picking up your laptop by the screen. Holding it by any corner, especially loosely with one hand, is a bad idea. Even premium laptops can sometimes succumb to this seemingly innocent abuse.

When a laptop is closed, the best way to pick it up is by grabbing the front or rear of the device. It’s smart to pick it up with both hands for security. When your laptop is open, you should still pick it up with both hands (one on each side).

Do not pick up a laptop by the display. If your laptop still has an optical drive for CDs, don’t hold it solely by that side either. You should also keep the laptop on a firm, level surface whenever possible. This will prevent it from getting bent out of shape.

Some laptops will take abuse, but others can run into issues before long. In particular, picking up a laptop by the display puts a lot of stress on the hinges. They aren’t meant to handle that. Thus, doing so can damage the hinges or surrounding materials, causing the hinge to break or the screen to stop working.

4. How to Destroy a Laptop by Mangling the Cords

If you want to kill your computer, treat its cables like junk. Wrap them around everything in sight, twist them at weird angles, and wait for something to break. It’ll happen sooner than you imagine.

You’d think power cords could handle lots of twisting and bending, but they often can’t. Laptops are primarily mobile devices, after all, so there’s good reason to make their cords thin, light, and easy to move.

A common form of this issue occurs when someone wraps the cord over some other object to keep it bundled. Sometimes that object has sharp edges, which cut into the cord. And this isn’t just for obvious blunders like knives; a hard plastic edge is all it takes. In some cases, power adapters will even damage the cable if you wrap it up around the brick.

Avoid this problem by bundling a cord over itself. Most cords come packaged this way when you receive them, and some include a little piece of Velcro you can use to keep the cord together. If your cable doesn’t have Velcro, you can buy some yourself for cheap or use an adjustable zip tie.

You should also make sure you don’t put too much strain on your computer cables. Avoid having the AC adapter hang in midair; this will put stress on the plug that goes into your laptop. Over time, this will weaken the plug and could even damage the socket, preventing you from charging your computer. Having a bit of slack in your cables is important.

5. How to Kill a Laptop With Improper Transportation

As we looked at above, laptops don’t take kindly to shakes or other jarring. Despite what movies might have you think, you can’t properly use them on the back of a motorcycle, or while running away from guys with machine guns, or in the back of a car while missiles are fired at you.

A lot of people buy a laptop bag to take the edge off everyday bumps and bangs. That’s a great first step, but you need to make sure the bag actually provides protection. Cheap laptop bags include a compartment that is laptop-sized, but usually lacks protection.

Others have padding on the sides of the bag, but completely neglect to protect the top or bottom. Of course, the bottom is what hits the floor when you drop a bag you’re holding.

An alternative is to place your laptop in a padded sleeve. This can protect your laptop from jolts while also keeping objects in your bag from scratching the machine’s exterior. Just make sure the sleeve is padded. A cheap sleeve, like a lousy bag, may be too thin to offer real protection.

Check out the best anti-theft laptop backpacks


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for some good options.

Have You Ever Destroyed a Laptop?

In summary, it’s important to keep an eye on the small details. Otherwise, your laptop could die a slow death through damage to the hinges, hard drive, exterior, or other components. Even seemingly minor actions, like dropped food crumbs getting underneath the keyboard, can cause serious damage over time.

You’ll read stories of people dropping their laptop in a pool, or spilling a drink on it, or knocking it off a fourth-story balcony. Such mistakes do happen. But dramatic accidents are not how most damage occurs. Laptops often fail due to a combination of small mistakes, some of which may have no consequences at first.

For more questions on computer health, find out whether you should leave your laptop plugged in all the time


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.

Image Credit: alphaspirit via Shutterstock.com





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5 Ways to Avoid Dark, Blurry Halloween Photos – LifeSavvy

Two boys dressed up for Halloween posing around jack-o'-lanterns and fake skulls.
Pressmaster/Shutterstock

Can you say you’ve celebrated Halloween if you don’t have any pictures to prove it? Taking photos in the inevitable low-light of a Halloween party isn’t easy, but it’s not impossible! Here are some tips to get quality photos—even of the vampires.

Preparation

Every professional photoshoot, whether it’s indoors or outdoors, involves a bit of prep-work, especially when it comes to lighting. Photographers need to know how strong the light is going to be, if they’ll need extra lights and what kind, and which camera setting they’ll have to use. This saves time on the day of the shoot, so subjects can come in, strike a pose, and get on with the event.

You can approach Halloween the same way. Your family and friends will be dressed up, and you’ll want to snap a few pictures. You don’t want it to feel like a chore, or they’ll run away before you can get a good, sharp photo.

If you prepare for the event, it can save you time and stress. Before the big night, decide where you want to take the pictures, the angle from which you’ll take them, the elements you’ll use, and clear the room of anything (shiny objects, smaller light sources, etc.) that could get in the way and ruin the shots.

You can create a backdrop, decorate the background, or just rearrange a few things to make room for your models. Get as creative as you want!

The one crucial element you have to keep in mind, though, is the lighting.

Lighting

The lighting setup is a fundamental step in photography, yet, it’s easily overlooked. No matter where you take your photos, you have to make sure there’s a light source shining on your subjects’ faces and outfits. You want the light to bounce off them, so the camera picks it up and turns it into a sharp image.

A young girl dressed as a witch looking into a jack o' lantern.
MNStudio/Shutterstock

While the lack of natural light certainly makes it more challenging to get a satisfyingly good shot, you have the advantage of being able to move artificial light sources. For example, if there are lamps around the room, bring them closer, so they cast an even light on your subjects. If you don’t have enough lamps around, borrow some from other rooms.

If you only have one floor lamp, place it directly behind you; if you have two, place one on each side of you. This will prevent dark, unattractive shadows from appearing on your models’ faces—just make sure to keep some distance, so you don’t blind them!

Camera Settings

Whether you have a compact camera or a DSLR, play around with the settings ahead of time, so you have more control over the final result—especially in low light.

If you have a general idea of what auto, semi-auto, and manual modes mean and how they work, it will benefit you immensely when you take pictures in different environments—and it saves time!

Here’s a quick rundown of the main settings you should get acquainted with before Halloween rolls around:

  • ISO: This is a measurement of the sensitivity of your camera’s image sensor. The higher the number, the more light the sensor will capture, which translates to brighter images. However, it’s not as straightforward as it might seem. If you crank up the ISO too much, it can result in very grainy photos, uneven colors, and a loss of details. While some cameras can maintain good image quality at high ISO values, try to stick to a maximum of ISO 3200 if you don’t intend to make prints.
  • Aperture: The lens is to the image sensor what the eye is to the brain: the wider it’s opened, the more light travels through it and reaches the processing center. In optics, this opening is called aperture. It indicates how apt a lens is to take photos in low-light environments. You want the brightest aperture your lens can provide, which is denoted by a small number preceded by an f. To do this, set your camera to A mode, and then turn the dial until you get to the smallest possible number. Anything lower than f4 will work just fine.
  • Shutter speed: This is the amount of time the camera shutter stays open. As you might expect, the longer it stays open, the more light it’s exposed to. At night, you have to work with a low shutter speed for the image sensor to capture as much light as possible. However, a longer exposure time increases your chances of having blurry pictures because it detects even minor movements. Therefore, when you photograph people, make sure you keep the shutter speed above 1/60 if they’re standing still; you can go up to 1/250 if they’re moving. To do that, set your camera to S mode, and then turn the dial until it’s low enough to capture a sufficient amount of light in your image.

Again, experiment with these three elements because simply setting them all to their maximum measurement won’t always work. It all depends on the lighting in the room. Keep the aperture as open as possible (i.e., the lowest number) and try out different ISO and shutter speed settings to achieve the result you want.

If you can take some test shots the night before, it will save you time on Halloween.

Use a Tripod

Low shutter speeds require a steady hand and/or still subjects to capture sharp images; however, that’s not always possible. This is when a tripod comes in handy. Not only does it help you take multiple shots with the same framing (even if you’re in some of them), but you can also lower the shutter speed even further if the subject and/or scene allow for it.

It’s certainly convenient—if not essential—to have a tripod in low-light situations. If you don’t have one, find a surface from the right angle on which to place your camera and voilà!

Don’t Be Scared of the Flash

Flash can make or break a photo, which is why many prefer to avoid it. It can wash things out and, sometimes, even cause a loss of details in the image. However, it can really help in dark environments if there aren’t any other sources around to light up the subject of your work. The best way to prevent everything from turning white—and blinding everyone—is to diffuse the flash.

You can do this in a variety of ways, even if all you have is the on-camera flash. One easy trick you can use to diffuse the flash and give your photos a softer, more even look is to use a plastic bag over it. Simply grab a plastic bag, inflate it, tie a knot, and place it on top of your camera where the flash is. This prevents the harsh light from landing directly on your subjects’ faces and disperses it around the room, instead.


If you take the time to get to know your camera settings and do a trial shoot before Halloween, it can save you lots of disappointment on the big night. Ideally, you want to be able to snap your photos with confidence, so you can be proud later when you show them to everyone. The more you practice, the easier it will be to get the job done.

And if you’ve run out of ideas about what to be for Halloween, here are some must-haves that will get you ready for that last-minute party!





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Time to install Microsoft’s mainstream September patches – and avoid the dregs

It’s a smelter-weight slapdown. 

In one corner you have the Chicken Little contingent, which insists that September’s IE zero-day patch must be important because Microsoft marked it as “Exploited: Yes” and memorialized it with an extremely odd patch on a Monday, followed in Keystone Kops fashion with a stumbling trail of follow-ons

In the other corner you have Dummies like me who say Microsoft obviously didn’t care that much about the security hole because it didn’t really push out a fix. If Microsoft were serious about the zero-day, the Dummies insist, it would’ve gotten its act together by now. Demonstrably, the act is still in progress.

And in the middle you have a billion or two Windows customers who really don’t care. They just want their computers to work and not suddenly get whopped by a WannaCry wannabe.

Welcome to Windows as a service.

Internet Explorer choices

With Internet Explorer usage share rapidly swirling down the drain, you might wonder why anybody would care about a patch for a zero-day bug in IE. The problem is that some security holes in IE can be exploited even if you aren’t using IE because Microsoft spreads IE plumbing throughout Windows. Fair enough. But Microsoft hasn’t said if the CVE-2019-1367 exploit can be harnessed even if you aren’t using IE. So the long and short answer is we don’t know if you really need to install the IE patch(es).

That’s true in spite of what you heard on your local evening news right after the weather report — or read in one of a gazillion Chicken Little articles rumbling in the Windows echo chamber.

In what follows, I’ll show you how to install the official, approved patches for all versions of Windows. That’ll leave you unprotected from the CVE-2019-1367 ghoul. If the Chicken Little approach appeals to you, when you’re done with these steps, you have one of two choices for Windows 10:

  • Manually download and install the Sept. 23 one-off patch for your version of Windows (1903 is here, 1809, 1803). If you do that, realize that after you’ve installed the patch, you won’t be able to install .Net 3.5, which probably isn’t a big deal unless you’re using the SAP ERP package. Make sure you have the latest Servicing Stack Update working before you install.
  • Use Windows Update to install the Sept. 24 or 26 “optional, non-security” patch (for 1903 that’s KB 4517211, for 1809 it’s KB 4516077, for 1803 it’s 4516045). When offered the choice (see the screenshot at the end of this article), click Download and install now. The “optional, non-security” patch which contains a security patch will protect you from the IE zero-day, but it also may clobber your printer.

If you’re using Windows 7 or 8.1 (or Server variants) and you follow the instructions here, you’ll get all the recommended September patches, but you won’t be protected from the CVE-2019-1367 mess. If you’re in the Chicken Little party, the easiest way to get protected is to manually install a single standalone patch, KB 4522007, that applies to IE in Win7, 8.1, Server 2012 and Server 2012 R2. It’s a plain-vanilla IE patch (which means it’s a rollup), arriving at a weird time. It’s NOT a Windows patch. 

More telemetry for Win7 and 8.1

This month brought three cumulative updates for each version of Win10. The last cumulative update, marked “optional, non-security” is in fact a security patch. But you Win10 users shouldn’t feel special. Win7 and 8.1 this month have precisely the opposite problem — their “Security only” patches include the full suite of Microsoft snooping/telemetry updates, and installing them sets up scheduled tasks to use them.

It’s the same shenanigans we saw in July.

Fortunately, there are ways to circumvent the telemetry — or at least minimize it. Details follow.

Update

Here’s how to get your system updated the (relatively) safe way.

Step 1. Make a full system image backup before you install the latest patches

There’s a non-zero chance that the patches — even the latest, greatest patches of patches of patches — will hose your machine. Best to have a backup that you can reinstall even if your machine refuses to boot. This, in addition to the usual need for System Restore points.

There are plenty of full-image backup products, including at least two good free ones: Macrium Reflect Free and EaseUS Todo Backup. For Win 7 users, If you aren’t making backups regularly, take a look at this thread started by Cybertooth for details. You have good options, both free and not-so-free.

Step 2. For Win7 and 8.1

Microsoft is blocking updates to Windows 7 and 8.1 on recent computers. If you are running Windows 7 or 8.1 on a PC that’s 24 months old or newer, follow the instructions in AKB 2000006 or @MrBrian’s summary of @radosuaf’s method to make sure you can use Windows Update to get updates applied.

If you’ve been relying on the Security-only “Group B” patching approach to keep Microsoft’s snooping software off your PC, you’re stuck again this month. You can install the August Security-only patch without bringing in the snooping routines. But unless you install the telemetry-laden July and September Security-only patches, you’re missing a couple of months of (not really all that important) patches. Think of it as a preview of your January Win7 end-of-support conundrum.

For most Windows 7 and 8.1 users, I recommend following AKB 2000004: How to apply the Win7 and 8.1 Monthly Rollups. You should have one Windows patch, dated Sept. 10 (the Patch Tuesday patch). If you’re very paranoid about the CVE-2019-1367 IE zero-day exposure, use the separately downloaded and manually installed IE update, KB 4522007

Realize that some or all of the expected patches for September may not show up or, if they do show up, may not be checked. DON’T CHECK any unchecked patches. Unless you’re very sure of yourself, DON’T GO LOOKING for additional patches. In particular, if you install the September Monthly Rollup, you won’t need (and probably won’t see) the concomitant patches for August. Don’t mess with Mother Microsoft.

If you see KB 4493132, the “Get Windows 10” nag patch, make sure it’s unchecked.

Watch out for driver updates — you’re far better off getting them from a manufacturer’s website.

After you’ve installed the latest Monthly Rollup, if you’re intent on minimizing Microsoft’s snooping, run through the steps in AKB 2000007: Turning off the worst Win7 and 8.1 snooping. If you want to thoroughly cut out the telemetry, see @abbodi86’s detailed instructions in AKB 2000012: How To Neutralize Telemetry and Sustain Windows 7 and 8.1 Monthly Rollup Model.

Realize that we don’t know what information Microsoft collects on Window 7 and 8.1 machines. But I’d be willing to bet that fully-updated Win7 and 8.1 machines are leaking almost as much personal info as that pushed in Win10.

Step 3. For Windows 10 prior to version 1903

If you want to stick with your current version of Win10 Pro — a reasonable alternative — you can follow my advice from February and set “quality update” (cumulative update) deferrals to 15 days, per the screenshot. If you have quality updates set to 15 days, your machine already updated itself on Sept. 25, and will update again on Oct. 16. Don’t touch a thing and in particular don’t click Check for updates.

1809 sac 365 15 Woody Leonhard/IDG

For the rest of you, including those of you stuck with Win10 Home, go through the steps in “8 steps to install Windows 10 patches like a pro.” Make sure that you run Step 3, to hide any updates you don’t want (such as the Win10 1903 upgrade or any driver updates for non-Microsoft hardware) before proceeding.

If you see a notice that “You’re currently running a version of windows that’s nearing the end of support. We recommend you update to the most recent version of Windows 10 now to get the latest features and security improvements” you can safely chill. Win10 1803 is good through November. If you see a link to “Download and install now,” ignore it — for the same reason.

Step 4. For Windows 10 version 1903

Windows Update in Win10 version 1903 went through a major makeover last month. The result, if it works the way it’s been described, will be a major step forward in Windows 10 patching.

There’s a legacy fly in the ointment, though. If you’ve moved to Win10 Pro version 1903, and you set 15 day deferral on quality updates (as shown in the preceding screenshot), you’ll no doubt discover that the settings shown in the screenshot are no longer available on your machine. Microsoft hasn’t yet deigned to tell us what’s going on, but you can rest assured that your 15-day deferral was obeyed — and you got the September patches on Sept. 25. Don’t worry about changing the deferral settings. You’re protected until Oct. 16.

Long story short, the setting shown in the screenshot may not be visible on your machine. Not to worry. You have a belt-and-suspenders kind of second choice. If you’re on Win10 version 1903 (either Home or Pro), click the link on the Windows Update page that says “Pause updates for 7 days,” then click on the newly revealed link, which says “Pause updates for 7 more days,” then click it again.

By clicking that link three times, you’ll defer cumulative updates for 21 days from the day you started clicking — if you do it today, you’ll be protected until Oct. 23 — which is typically long enough for Microsoft to work out the worst bugs in their patches.

There are several group policies and a handful of registry settings working in the background when you make those changes. But if you’re using Pro and set the quality update deferral to 15 days, and punch the “Pause updates for 7 days” button three times (on either Home or Pro), you should be in good shape.

1903 third sept cumulative update offered Woody Leonhard/IDG

If you see an offer of an Optional update (screenshot), don’t click Download and install now. Even more bugs await.

And, no, I don’t know how to reliably keep Win10 1909 off your 1903 machine. For now, the Pause updates button should keep you protected. At some point Microsoft will have to explain exactly how the feature-upgrade-in-cumulative-update-clothing gets installed.

I think.

Stay tuned.

Thanks to the dozens of volunteers on AskWoody who contribute mightily, especially @sb, @PKCano, @abbodi86 and many others.

We’ve moved to MS-DEFCON 3 on the AskWoody Lounge.

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.



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