Advice on getting the most from Windows XP, courtesy of the Google Play Store

Filed Under: Android, Featured, Google, Security threats

I'm an Android user.

I like to run a lean, clean tablet, with not too many options and third-party apps on top of the core system build.

So my options and apps are purposefully restricted to things like Android's Wi-Fi hotspot, the software to let me at the Google Play Store, plus a handful of utilities.

My utilities of choice are usually Sophos Anti-Virus, Thomas Okken's super-cool HP42s calculator simulator, and Klaus Weidner's sine qua non, Hacker's Keyboard.

Thanks to the Android Debug Bridge (ADB), I keep backups of the latest APKs of the apps I use, so I can reflash and reinstall a useful system in a few minutes, without an internet connection.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, yesterday I thought I'd take a look in the Play Store to see if there had been any updates to Hacker's Keyboard in the last couple of weeks.

There hadn't been an update, but my search must have marked me out as a haxxor type, because...

...Google helpfully suggested some technical books, too:

Like the beauty you see above in the lower left corner.

Clicking through quickly revealed an unbeatable bargain, with the price slashed from $24.99 to barely more than half that:

The Third Edition even covers Service Pack 2, which, Google Play tells me, a little breathlessly:

...provides increased protection against viruses, hackers, and worms.

While it was about it, the Play Store recommended some other, related books it was sure I'd like:

The First Edition of the Third Edition of How To Do Everything With Windows XP, for just $14.55, only 6% more than the Third Edition itself!

(And will you look at those BlackBerries!)

With advice this current, and this cheap, I may never need to pay $295 again to have an unwanted cold caller from an overseas call centre help me get rid of malware that doesn't exist.



On the serious side, it's a pity to see an online source as influential as Google Play making recommendations like this so close to XP's end-of-service.

If you must continue to use XP in your organisation after security updates end in April 2014, make sure you don't leave your XP computers set up so they can "do everything."

Fence them off in a corner of your network, and limit what software you'll allow them to run.

That will reduce your exposure to danger, as explained in our End of XP podcast:

Oh, and another thing.

With just weeks to run in XP's official lifetime of twelve years, what sort of a discount is $24.99$13.74?

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12 Responses to Advice on getting the most from Windows XP, courtesy of the Google Play Store

  1. Haha.
    I bet the publisher of those books is trying to get a few last bucks before XP dies out.

    • Christophe Rigaud · 573 days ago

      Or just Google whose algorithm used to recommend upcoming "oudated" stuff is not smart enough to avoid recommending books about an obsolete OS such as XP.

      • Paul Ducklin · 573 days ago

        Well...not obsolete _yet_. You have several weeks to squeeze value out of that $13.74 :-)

  2. Very Funny · 573 days ago

    Very good tongue-in-cheek article, it made my day. It is amazing what "recommendations" you will receive from online stores.

    "I usually make do with Sophos Anti-Virus..."

    I had to stop reading for a moment when I read this line after I almost choked on my coffee :)

    • Paul Ducklin · 573 days ago can read that two ways, can't you? Not my finest choice of words (and that part was meant to be perfectly serious).

      I think I might allow myself a small edit to remove the self-critical ambiguity, if you don't mind :-)

  3. Laurence Marks · 573 days ago

    Google's (or Amazon's) targeting algorithms could use a reality check. If I buy mystery stories, it makes sense to show me more mystery stories. But if I buy a fuel pump for my car (which wears out only once every 100,000 miles), it makes no sense to continue to show me fuel pumps for weeks after I've bought one. They ought to be able to distinguish repeat categories from one-time categories.

  4. 2072 · 573 days ago

    I don't think those adds were displayed because of your search for hacker Keyboard but probably because Google profile shaping algorithms detected an increased interest from you for Windows XP since it's going nearer and nearer to its end of life... ;-)

    Just to prove my point, I did the same search on Google Play for "Hacker's Keyboard" and ended up with those books suggestions:

    - "RaapBerry Pi user guide"
    - "Linux Device Driver"
    - "Iphone Open application developpment"
    - "Rootkits for dummies" (hrmm??)
    - "Brain Jack"

    • Paul Ducklin · 573 days ago

      I've had varied results, doing the same search numerous times from numerous starting points. I've also had a Linux Device Driver book shoved at me, as well as Raspberry Pi stuff.

      I don't think I've had "Rootkits for Dummies", but as I personally find the entire concept of books *for* dummies (presumably they are also written *by* dummies, to ensure a good fit) to be an incomprehensbile marketing concept, I may have blanked it out :-)

      Curiously, if my memory serves, I was never fronted with a book about Android, even though the first hit in the Apps section was an Android app with exactly the name I had searched for, and I was searching from an Android device...

      (And what, I may ask, is "Brain Jack" that a keyboard hacker might be interested in the concept? In my vernacular, the word "jack" in that sort of context is an occasional synonym for nil, nothing, zilch, zero, as in, Q. "How much do you know about contrafibularities?" A. "Jack. Never even heard the word before.")

  5. rakso75 · 573 days ago

    Talking about XP still in use, scary, really scary:

    40,000 Dutch civil servants are still using Windows XP:

    And Netherlands is quite advanced technologically speaking, what will be happening in other countries around the world?

    Problem is then, not what hackers (or crackers if you prefer) can get out of your computer (if they get in there first), but what they can get from computers with your data at your city-hall, gas company, phone provider, etc...

    • Paul Ducklin · 573 days ago

      Maybe they should buy some copies of the book? 40,000 x $13.74 is just under $600,000. Maybe they can do a volume licensing deal?

  6. Buck · 573 days ago

    What a great deal! Do they have any books for DOS?

    • Paul Ducklin · 573 days ago

      Sadly, it seems they do not.

      But I did find the PC Interfacing Pocket Reference book, that "packs everything skilled developers need: traditional ASCII tables, memory and register addresses, and instruction sets plus BIOS, MS-DOS, DPMI and Windows APIs."

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About the author

Paul Ducklin is a passionate security proselytiser. (That's like an evangelist, but more so!) He lives and breathes computer security, and would be happy for you to do so, too. Paul won the inaugural AusCERT Director's Award for Individual Excellence in Computer Security in 2009. Follow him on Twitter: @duckblog