The most common password used on the internet is “password”. And sad to say, people use the same password on several sites. You have access to one, you have access to all. This allows cybercriminals to build up a database on you and can lead to fraud.
So what is a good password? First, take a look at this list. Don’t use any of those passwords. Next, read Kaspersky Antiviruses 6 bad ideas for a password. However, ignore Kaspersky’s rule for developing a good password. View full article »
This entry has been updated for the 4th time. Last update was 3/29/2013. Some grammatical errors were fixed since then.
You may also view our Windows 8 guide. First, I will update this post as I see the need. The most recent update is March 29, 2013. including corrections for grammatical errors and I added a few sentences in the main part of this post. Nothing was removed. Second, I am tired of everybody saying “you don’t use Windows 8 and that is why you hate it”. I’ve used it and the more I use it, the more I hate it.
A hammer is not a screwdriver. You do not put in a nail with a screwdriver and you do not put in a screw with a hammer. Each tool has a different purpose. Microsoft, you forgot this most essential fact: A tablet isn’t a desktop. A tablet has a different purpose than a desktop.
The interface formerly known as Metro but now known as Modern is clearly meant for touchscreen. How many people have touchscreen computers? I used one of those all-in-one computers with a touchscreen and after the novelty of it wore off, I found it annoying to be reaching forward to things. Point blank: the so-called Modern user interface DOES NOT WORK WITH A KEYBOARD AND MOUSE! There is no way around this. What was once a short mouse move away is now a long mouse move away.
It gets worse. Type “uninstall” in the Windows 7 start menu and see what comes up. Type the same thing in the Modern start screen and see what comes up. In Windows 7 you get an option to uninstall all programs; in Windows 8, you only get an option to uninstall programs that have an uninstall shortcut in the start menu/start screen. In Windows 8, you must go to the control panel, which you have to type or pray you find in the Modern UI, and then find programs and features to get a list of all uninstall programs. What was once a quick process is now several steps. View full article »
Just recently I had a laptop whose hard drive was dying. It had bad sectors on it. At first I was not sure the hard drive was bad and I was just thinking the computer needed a tune-up and needed to remove McAfee. But when Windows 7 was still slow after all that, then I figured out it was a bad hard drive. The computer still booted, and so I thought I could clone the hard drive and everything will be okay. Must of my programs for cloning/imaging drives don’t play well with bad sectors and the one I had that did work around that was painfully slow. So what to do.
Without boring you with all the time I invested, here is how I eventually copied the hard drive.
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Here is an interesting problem in Windows XP. When you click the start button, the entire start menu was corrupted. You click on the All Programs link and nothing happens. You click on the My Computer link and nothing happens. In fact, the icons on the control panel were corrupted. When you go to the Control Panel and attempt to edit user accounts, you get a message “The specified module could not be found”. You couldn’t modify the services. And a whole lot of other weirdness was going on.
Do yourself a favor. If a lot of weird things are going on, go ahead and do an in-place upgrade, aka a repair installation. I spent several hours trying to fix these problems one at a time and could not. The only thing that worked was an in-place upgrade.
So what did I did. Well naturally I wanted to start with the System File Checker. That did not fix anything. I tried using Dial-a-Fix to repair Windows. Even the advanced options it had did not fix the problem. I didn’t want to do an in-place upgrade because of the slight risk of failure. Although to be fair, I’ve only seen a failed in-place upgrade on Windows Vista, which it recovered from. The way the Windows XP in-place upgrade works sometimes it will not let you. After much frustration, I finally went ahead with the in-place upgrade. Which worked, although it had its share of problems.
After the installation process prompts the user for the last time, it copies several more files. The problem was it kept prompting me to find a file that it could not find, except that it did find it but never copied the file. I tried a different CD drive, same thing. I tried a different disc, same thing. After a while I began to examine the files the program would not copy and the files it was attempting to replace where the same size but a date a few days in the future. I decided to manually attempt to expand these files from the CD to Windows. But after about 20 with no end in sight, I stopped. I was using the Dell XP Home SP2 CD anyway (it was a Dell laptop) so I figured between installing SP3 and all the Windows updates I would be okay. And I was. Windows installed properly, the updates and service pack installed properly. All the problems were fixed.
So, as another note, if Windows is not expanding a file from the CD or DVD and if the file exists, ignore the problem. Chances are good a security update will overwrite the file anyway.
I recently purchased a CD that let me download the CD is the lossless audio format FLAC. You always want the lossless audio when downloading an audio CD because the audio quality is the exact same as the CD. MP3′s and other lossy audio files are not, but may or may not be indistinguishable to the ear. FLAC is a great option, but because it is free, has no DRM, and nobody can make money on it, FLAC has little support. And that means iTunes and Windows Media Player won’t play it. So you might want to convert FLAC to something else. I converted mine to Apple Lossless since it is supported by many different players. So how do you convert to another format? It is surprisingly easy.
- Download eac3to. Be sure to the guide on how to install and use it. I also add the folder eac3to will be installed in to my DOS path. Control Panel -> System -> Advanced tab -> Environment Variables -> then modify the Path under the System variables section at the bottom.
- Open a command prompt. Go to the folder with the FLAC files in it.
- Type eac3to <file>.flac <file>.wav where <file> is the name of the file. This converts the FLAC file to a WAV file. FLAC is a compressed lossless audio file; WAV is an uncompressed lossless file. CD’s use the WAV format.
- Add the WAV files to your media player, i.e. iTunes, and then use that program to convert to another format.
- Then edit the music tag information, being careful that you are correct because the files may not be in the proper order.
If the Master Boot Record (MBR) or partition information has been damaged by a virus, Windows will not boot. Variants of the TDSS rootkit, for instance, will infect the MBR and remove the system and active flags on all partitions. The purpose of that is to make sure the boot process must active the TDSS rootkit. You’ll know this has happened when all you get is a flashing cursor when attempting to boot from the primary hard drive. It can be easily fixed with the Windows 7 DVD. This process is easier with the Windows 7 DVD than with the Windows 8 or Windows Vista DVD. This solution only works if the hard drive has a MBR. The MBR replacement, GUID Partition Table (GPT), requires a computer with the UEFI instead of the BIOS. GPT is more secure than the MBR.
- Boot into the Windows 7 DVD and choose Repair Your Computer.
- Startup Repair may run, if it does, let it fix the problem. If it doesn’t, then run startup repair immediately. Then immediately reboot back into the Windows 7 DVD.
- Open a command prompt.
- If using Windows Vista or later, run the following commands:
chkdsk c: /f /x (NOTE: The Windows DVD may have the Windows partition another drive letter. Make sure you use that drive letter.)
bootsect /nt60 sys /force /mbr
bcdboot c:\windows /s c: (NOTE: The Windows DVD may have assigned the Windows partition another letter. Use the drive letter Windows assigned for c:\windows.)
select disk # (use the list disk command to get a list of drives and use the # of the boot drive.)
select partition # (use the list partition command to get a list of partitions on this drive and choose the partition with Windows on it, likely the largest.)
- If using Windows XP or earlier, use the same commands except replace /nt60 with /nt52 in the bootsect command and do not use bcdboot.
- Reboot and run TDSSKiller.
I finally figured out to create an USB drive that contains multiple versions of Windows on it. This universal USB drive does have one limitation in that you cannot install Windows with it. It is suitable for running Startup Repair and other commands.
Tools I used:
- YUMI to install Syslinux and GRUB4DOS on the USB drive.
- Dreamweaver to edit the menu files because the menu text files are not in the Windows format.
- ODIN to backup my USB drive in case I lose it or the data on it is corrupted.
- ImgBurn to create an ISO file without the /sources/INSTALL.WIM file to save space.
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I came across a Windows XP computer that was missing its taskbar. Upon further investigation I found out that many other things were not working right either. When I opened the management console, there were several services that would not start. I would get “access denied” error messages when attempting to start them manually and when I viewed the service dependencies I got the error message “Win32: Access is denied”. Since the sound was not working I also attempted to pull up the properties of the sound card driver, and nothing happened when I double-clicked the driver. Also on the management console, the buttons for the disk derangementer did nothing.
Here is how to fix all these problems in Windows XP; perform these steps in this order to save time:
- Using the Dial-a-Fix program, check every box except the ones under the Prep group and except for the Explorer/IE/OE/shell/WMP button. Then start that repair process. This may take some time.
- While that is running, you can clean up temporary files to help any antimalware scan later. You can also check for the TDSS rootkit using TDSSKiller.
- After Dial-a-Fix finishes what it was doing, click the hammer icon to bring up more options.
- First, scroll to the bottom of the list and choose Reset WMI/WBEM. If that gives an error, then choose Reinstall WMI/WBEM and after that finishes try again to reset.
- After that finishes, choose all of the Reinstall options except Reinstall options except Reinstall WMI/WBEM.
- After that finishes, choose Repair permissions.
- While waiting for that, open a command prompt and run the System File Checker: sfc /scannow.
- When all that is finished, then open the management console and then find the Remote Procedure Call (RPC) service. Open its properties and click the Logon tab. Make sure the service is set to log on Local System account. (Please note: the default setting is to not be logged in as Local System account.)
- After Windows comes back, you it would be a good idea to scan for viruses and malware.
For Office 2003, 2007, and 2010 Microsoft made an edition that could be used on 3 computers. The costs was between $130 and $150, maybe $100 on sale and usually for around $140. That was a good deal and it included the two essential programs: Word and Excel.
For Office 2013, there is no edition you can use on 3 computers. If you only have one computer and will only have one computer, that is not a big deal. Despite being a huge eyesore just like Windows 8, Office 2013 does include some nice new features. But none of those features are worth upgrading too.
Why the price increase? Because Microsoft has lost touch with what made them successful. Microsoft is trying desperately to force you to give them money each year.
And that brings me to Office 365. This is the Office program by subscription. For a $99 yearly fee, you get to use Office on 5 computers and it includes 20 GB of online storage and 60 minutes of Skype international calling. In Office 365 your documents are saved by default to Microsoft’s online storage which allows you to access them anywhere. That is a nice feature (the Skype minutes are clearly something thrown in to make it seem like you are getting a better value than you are). However, in no way is that worth spending $99 a year. How many people have 5 computers?
The pricing on Office 2013 and Office 365 is bad all around. Between this decision and Windows 8, it is clear Microsoft has lost its way and needs new leadership, leadership that listens to customers instead of telling customers what they want.
Recently I had someone call me up and asked if I could help her install Vista Service Pack 1. She explained that the normal way of using Windows Update did not work. I was trying to be helpful, so I suggested she try the standalone installer. She did and it didn’t work. But there were two problems. The failure of the standalone installer left the computer unable to get back into Windows. That wasn’t the biggest problem.
The biggest problem was Dell, in their infinite stupidity, decided it was not a good idea to installer the standard Vista recovery console. The problem is fixable with the Vista DVD. But why didn’t Dell give the computer a way to repair automatically like Vista allows?
Anyway, this person called me late Friday, I couldn’t get to her until Monday. In the meantime, she called Dell. Big mistake. All over-the-phone tech support people know how to do is read down a list. The problem was with Vista and its quirk and with Dell and their stupidity at the time. But, in my experience with tech supports, if their list doesn’t know how to fix the problem, it must be your fault or someone else’s fault. A common trait in too many businesses now.
Dell put the blame on me. I have the Vista DVD. I could have fixed the problem. Granted, it will take a very long time, but it is fixable. Dell made out like it wasn’t fixable. A lie or an act of ignorance. Either way, this person bought a new computer from Dell and then fussed me out.
Okay, now that the story is over, here is the lesson. If a Service Pack does not install with Windows Update, do not use the standalone installer. Instead, do an in-place upgrade first. An in-place upgrade is Microsoft way of saying a repair installation where Windows is rebuilt from scratch. The process works like you are upgrading Windows. In other words, in this instance you are upgrading Vista to Vista. The in-place upgrade must be for the same version and service pack of Windows. You cannot use an in-place upgrade to go Vista SP1 to Vista SP2. After the in-place upgrade finishes, then you can install the service packs.
Another lesson, don’t ever give advice on what to do with Windows Vista over the phone.
So here is a problem I encountered. A computer would not connect to the internet. The first thing I do is, of course, run the ipconfig command. This showed that it wasn’t getting an IP address from the router. So I tried to open the command prompt as an administrator, but all I got was a message saying “The specified service does not exist as an installed service” along with something else below it related to the action I was trying to perform. Whenever I tried to run anything as an administrator, I got this same message: “The specified service does not exist as an installed service“. View full article »