Adobe Reader X Quick Review

Background
Last week Adobe released a new version of Adobe Acrobat, version X.  This is a new version of the program that many of us use every day.  In the past people shied away from new versions of Acrobat reader because over the years the program had become bloated and slow.  However this new version offers important security benefits and speed improvements that make the upgrade worth it.

As many people know Adobe Reader has become one of the favorite attack vectors for hackers and malware over the past few years for a number of reasons including.

  1. The install base is huge! Most new PC’s come with it preinstalled, if not almost everyone needs a PDF viewer and Adobe’s is the most popular.
  2. Quarterly updates that Adobe releases are too slow and infrequent, Only if an exploit is really bad does Adobe decided to do an out of cycle update.  Even with these updates few people know that the program needs updated.  The automatic updates in version 9 have been better but still seem to fail most of the time.  Manual updating seems to be required.
  3. The ability to run things such as Javascript in a PDF exist and are on by default.  Just about everyone does not need this feature and it represents a large place to exploit.

The Good
Security
The biggest feature of version X is the introduction of a Sandbox.  A sandbox provides isolation  of the program from the operating system, to lessen the chance of security exploits.  Adobe does a great job in explaining all about the sandbox features in these two blog posts, Sandbox Post 1,  Sandbox Post 2, Sandbox Post 3, Sandbox Post 4.  This is such a big thing from a security angle that the SANS institute has recommended that everyone install Adobe Reader X to get this feature.  https://isc.sans.edu/diary.html?storyid=9976

Speed
Surprisingly this new version is faster than the old version 9.  It appears to be less bloated and quicker responding.

Other changes
I noticed the voice that will read text to you if you want seems to be more like a human.  The flow is greatly improved. The interface has been tweaked slightly to have more of a beveled edge, silver stainless steel look.  I like it.  Its nothing revolutionary but a nice, clean change.  The updater also now allows for you to set it to automatically download and install updates.  Hopefully this works well and allows the program to stay up to date without much user intervention.   I do hope Adobe changes their company policy and moves to a monthly update policy on the second Tuesday of the month, like Microsoft.  This will make the task of corporate administration much easier on the administrator.

The Bad
By default two security settings are on, when they should be disabled for increased security.  They pertain to features that a very, very small percentage of users actually use.  If for some reason you needed these someday you can easily turn them on, but for maximum security they should be off.  Adobe has even recommended doing this when the program has had problems in the past.  So to disable these settings go under EDIT—> Preferences —-> Then on the Left hand side choose JavaScript and then at the top of the page, uncheck the box that says “Enable Acrobat JavaScript”
The second option that needs changed is under this same menu.  Choose Trust Manager on the left hand side of the page, then at the top of the page uncheck the box that says “Allow Opening of non-PDF file attachments with external applications”

The other bad thing is that despite these new security features the very people you are trying to keep out are trying to take advantage of this new release to push their spamware most of it dubbed “Adobe Acrobat 2010” THIS IS FAKE and Malware, DO NOT INSTALL.  The SANS institute has a nice post about this as well, even with photos! https://isc.sans.edu/diary.html?storyid=9982

In conclusion when combined with the new security features and increased performance this seems like a great thing to have if you like the official client.  Here is a direct download for Windows ftp://ftp.adobe.com/pub/adobe/reader/win/10.x/10.0.0/en_US/AdbeRdr1000_en_US.exe

Android 2.2 Users: Go Get the New Gmail App!

Google announced today that a new version of their Gmail Android app has been made available in the Android Market.  This update is for users running Android 2.2 (Froyo) – (EVO and Droid Incredible users: see the update at the end of the post).   This new update includes several great features, as well as limited support for the new Priorty Inbox feature.  

Read On to find out more. Continue reading Android 2.2 Users: Go Get the New Gmail App!

Saturday Shenanigans: Recent Entertainment News

Time for your weekly dose of shenanigans. To start out, we’ll cover what is easily the biggest and coolest news that came out recently. Universal is planning an unprecedented feature/network TV adaption of the acclaimed Stephen King series The Dark Tower. I haven’t read this series, but my good friend Bob Sacamano told me that it’s pretty good. Hopefully they do it justice and it turns out as well as The Walking Dead looks.

Geek Tyrant links to an interesting interview with Marc Guggenheim at Newsarama.com. Guggenheim is one of the 3 screenwriters recently hired to pen the scripts for Green Lantern 2 and The Flash. They highlight some good stuff, but the interview itself is worth the read.

Pixar might be looking to jump into the superhero mix (outside of the Incredibles). Digitalspy.com has a story that Pixar is considering a CGI Doctor Strange movie.

More after the jump. Continue reading Saturday Shenanigans: Recent Entertainment News

Saturday Shenanigans: Recent Entertainment News

I’m going to have to apologize about this week’s Saturday Shenanigans (and possibly the upcoming month or so), I volunteer my time as a coach for a flag football team and it just doesn’t leave me a ton of extra time. However, I don’t want these weekly posts to fall by the wayside, so the show must go on!

With that out of the way, let’s get on to the Shenanigans.

Google just has to have their hand in everything! The Financial Times says that Google has approached major studios about launching a global pay per view movie service by the end of 2010. If this comes to fruition, analysts speculate that YouTube will become one of the major players in the online video streaming marketplace.

Entertainment Weekly has a video of an interview on the Emmy red carpet with Tina Fey. In this pre-Emmy clip, she reveals that she’s booked Mad Man Jon Hamm for a return appearance as Drew in her show’s much-anticipated live episode. Jon Hamm has been great in this role, so I’m excited to see how it goes live. Oh, and speaking of the Emmy’s, here’s the list of winners.

We’ll cover the rest of the shenanigans after the jump. Continue reading Saturday Shenanigans: Recent Entertainment News

Saturday Shenanigans: Recent Entertainment News

Another week, more shenanigans! Well, it’s a pretty sad week, but it’s here nonetheless.

GeekTyrant has another great article, this one about Bruce Campbell. He’s talking about Bruce Vs. Frankenstein, a sequel to My Name is Bruce. It’s a good read, so you should head over and check it out, my favorite part was this bit:

…basically I want every horror movie icon in the movie. I want it to be the ‘Mad, Mad, Mad World’ of horror movies.

Scream 4 is putting together a pretty impressive list of stars, and just added 2 more. Movieline reports that Kristen Bell and Anna Paquin have signed on to join the flick, likely as the two cameo kills to start off the mayhem, like Drew Barrymore and Jada Pinkett-Smith before them.

And now for this week’s New in Theaters… actually, forget that. Only 2 wide releases this week, and both looks absolutely terrible. For this weeks trailer, we’re gonna switch it up a bit and go with a TV trailer. AMC released the trailer for their new series, The Walking Dead. This show has climbed and easily surpassed the list of my most anticipated shows from this coming season… it looks really good.