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NoelC

Craving an updated UI experience? Re-skin Windows 8.1.

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One thing I've added in addition to what's documented above...

 

Sphinx Windows Firewall Control

 

This is a firewall control / management package that uses the Windows Filtering Platform under the covers.  With it I've reconfigured so that my outgoing firewall policy is "deny by default", and I've built up a whitelist of programs/services and addresses that are allowed, to achieve:

 

  • A quiet, private system that doesn't allow unwanted or unexpected communications.
  • A system that runs all the programs I want and allows them to communicate as needed.
  • Only a small level of ongoing maintenance effort to support this policy.

 

I bought the Network/Cloud edition so I could control all my systems (Win 7, 8.1, and 10) from one central panel.

 

The rules set took some time to develop, but I've got it pretty refined and things are pretty well nailed down now.  The software presents a configurable logging and management interface, so you can see as much or as little as you want, and you can develop your own Zones (in the more expensive versions of the product) so you can be very precise.

 

I've observed Sphinx Firewall Control blocking my Windows 8.1 system from attempting communications not only with Microsoft's servers in Redmond, but also with various Content Delivery Networks such as Edgecast and Acamai, and even now and then with some servers in countries I most certainly don't want to be communicating with!

 

I can still pass an SFC check and do a successful Windows Update on demand.

 

-Noel

 

This is reminiscent of the way the Zone Alarm firewall used to work way back in Win98 days. After installing it, for a while it would be pretty annoying as each new program got caught in its trap and had to receive permission to access the Internet; but then things would quiet down and you could be sure that nothing you didn't want was getting on the 'Net.

 

I wonder if there are any firewalls like that around anymore. It was annoying at first but easy to use, no mind-bending rules with convoluted language to try to interpret as with (say) the Norton firewall. Maybe this Sphinx appplication fits the bill?

 

--JorgeA

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Well, it does what I need.  The latest release is a bit on the fresh side, but they immediately fixed a couple of bugs I reported, and it's running pretty solidly for me now.  I have entirely replaced the Windows firewall setup with it.

 

-Noel

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Very nice skin. I have it applied on my 8.1 installation but I'm running into an issue. All non-ribbon windows use black text instead of white, which makes the title bar very difficult to read. I can see from your screenshot that all window title bars have white text. How exactly did you accomplish this? Thanks

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Glad you like it.  It really works, long-term.

I set the "Caption colour" setting in Big Muscle's Aero Glass for Win8.x configuration tool to white.  Seems to me that covers most cases.

CaptionColour.png

Download that tool here:  http://www.glass8.eu/download.html

(look for the Testing version of GUI application to modify Aero Glass parameters link)

Beyond that, Big Muscle's UxThemeSignatureBypass64.dll, running via the AppInit_DLLs entry in HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Windows, interprets that "Caption colour" setting and sets the ribbon-enabled window captions to white.

More info here: 

And some instructions here:  http://www.glass8.eu/guide.html

-Noel

Edited by NoelC

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