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Tips For a Good Password

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 Antivirus’s 6 bad ideas for a password. However, ignore Kaspersky’s rule for developing a good password. View full article »

Why I Hate Windows 8

This entry has been updated for the 8th time. Last update was 1/17/2014. Rumors are that Windows 9 will be released early 2015 and include a full start menu.

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Firefox is my browser of choice. It is faster than Internet Explorer and I prefer its user interface over Google Chrome. Like all programs, sometimes files get corrupted. If your Firefox browser is unable to load, the fix is easy enough.

  • Make a copy of the user’s profile files. These can be found in c:\Users\<user name>\AppData\Local\Mozilla and c:\Users\<user name>\Roaming\Mozilla or c:\Documents and Settings\<user name>\Local Settings\Application Data\Mozilla and c:\Documents and Settings\<user name>\Application Data\Mozilla.
  • Uninstall Firefox, make sure you delete all user profiles.
  • To be sure, delete the two folders above (but not their copies). Then delete the c:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox\ folder or c:\Program Files (x86)\Mozilla Firefox\ folder.
  • Reinstall Firefox.
  • The installation process will create a new user profile. Quite Firefox. Then go back to the folders in the first step and delete the new user profile folders. Then rename the copy user profile to the above names. This will return all your plugins and preferences.

This is a guide to fix Windows Update for Windows Vista and later. It is a guide for when Windows Update just does not work. The steps below assume there are no malware, viruses, or rootkits on the computer.

  1. If using an Intel processor, update the Rapid Storage Technology (RST) driver. Try downloading it from Intel’s website first, but if a compatible one is not found, you can download a know good copy here. Try Windows Update after restarting.
  2. If Windows Update still does not work, download the Windows All In One repair. Make all the necessary backups. The repairs you want to make sure are done are to (1) Reset Registry Permissions; (2) Reset File Permissions on the Windows drive, usually c:; (3) Repair WMI; (4) Repair Windows Firewall; (5) Repair Internet Explorer; (6) Repair HOSTS File; (7) Remove Policies Set by  Infections; (8) Repair Winsock & DNS Cach; (9) Repair Proxy Settings; (10) Repair Windows Update; (11) Repair MSI; (12) Restore Important Services; and (13) Set Windows Services to Default Settings. Reboot after complete and try Windows Update again.
  3. If Windows Update still does not work, try an in-place upgrade.
  4. If the in-place upgrade fails, then start using Google to search for the error code given by Windows Update. If no code is given, then search for Windows Update problems without an error code.

Sometimes, a virus or malware will modify the registry so that when you log in, a malicious file is processed instead of the standard windows file. There are several types of viruses that do this. Fortunately, the fix for all is the same. This is different than when Windows immediately restarts in Safe Mode. If that happens, you have malware that you will need to remove without Windows running.

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Here is a bug that is in Windows 7. It may show up in Windows Vista and Windows 8/8.1. If your computer has a UPS backup battery supply, you may be unable to change the battery level in the power options. Here is how you fix that.

Press the start button and type “gpedit.msc”. Expand Computer Configuation. Then expand Administrative Templates. Then select All Settings. Search for Critical Battery Notification Level, Critical Battery Notification Action, Low Battery Notification Level, and Low Battery Notification Action. Open each one of these and choose a value you wish.

Another old problem I had noted. I cleaned a computer that was infected with two rootkits, one in the Master Boot Record (MBR) and the other that dread UAC rootkit. These rootkits were modifying files as they were executed or when the file performed some action it did not like. For example, on this person’s computer, the rootkits corrupted McAfee files and would corrupt anti-malware scanners like HijackThis when it tried to scan. The MBR rootkit was very nasty. When you have a rootkit that corrupts anti-malware files, you will need to change the file name to something random (provided your file is not corrupted) or use the Windows disc to rebuild the MBR and manually remove the files or both.

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This is an old problem I noted a long time ago. While working on a computer, I encountered a computer that would exhibit the STOP 0x0000008E blue screen but only just after I told Windows to restart. A quick Google search revealed that STOP 0x0000008E is a very common problem. In fact, Microsoft had three articles about this very STOP code. Most blue screens of death also have some text in all capital letters which is very helpful when cross-referencing this STOP code. STOP 0x0000008E is supposed to have the text KERNEL_MODE_EXCEPTION_NOT_HANDLED.

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I encounter a problem that happened when you right-click a program. As soon as you right-clicked a program, a pop-up box appeared that said “There was a problem starting C:\users\owner\AppData\local\Temp\[random letters]\[different random letters]\wow.dll. A dynamic link library (DLL) initialization routine failed”. Or something like that.

Repeated searches of the registry for wow.dll found absolutely nothing. There was no trace of wow.dll in any of the startup entries. Internet searches weren’t very helpful either. I had already cleared all the temporary files, or so I thought, and so I thought the malware was removed.

It turns out there was a hidden, system folder that had its permissions taken away so that it was difficult to find and delete. After using Explorer to show hidden and system files, I had to right-click to get the permissions of the folder and take ownership of the now visible folder with the random letters. The error message came back, but I was still able to select the folder properties. After changing permissions and taking ownership of the folder, I discovered there was a wow64.dll file in that folder. Very sneaky. I deleted all those files and folders and the error message went away. Next I checked the registry for any references to wow64.dll and cleared those out.

The lesson is to always check for hidden, system files when you cannot figure out where the malware file is.

After I cleared out the malware, I did find this article which is also helpful.

One of my customers had a server that would not boot.  In fact, it would turn off after about 20 to 30 seconds while the BIOS was initializing and then the red health light would flash. What was causing this was the backplane adapter that converted the SAS RAID hard drive controller to 5 SATA hard drives. I disconnected the SAS cable and the server did not shut down. After I let the BIOS finish, I then reconnected the SAS cable to the backplane and the server booted normally.

However, I did try other options. If you have a problem with your ProLiant server, try these additional solutions:

  • Find the system maintenance switch. These are tiny DIP switches somewhere on the motherboard. Flip switch 6, which is a switch to reset the configuration, and turn on the server.  The server case should have a diagram of where everything is at, be sure to double-check to see if switch 6 does this. Be sure to flip the switch back when done.
  • Remove the BIOS battery and unplug the server for 2 or 3 minutes to reset the BIOS to the default. Put the battery back in and start the server. If successful, put more memory in one at a time. If unsuccessful, put a different memory stick in and then keep trying.
  • Remove all the memory. Then put just one stick back in and see if the server boots. The memory may be under a heat shield, so be sure the put anything related to cooling back in the server.
  • Try all three of the above at the same time.
  • If none of these work, there is likely a more serious problem.

The official Android 4.3 build has been available for a while now, but my Galaxy S3 would never upgrade. Finally, I found several tutorials that showed me how. The most helpful was this one. I did not do a factory reset of my device because I did not want to re-install all my applications. But I followed all the other instructions and I successfully upgraded to Android 4.3.

After the upgrade process completed, I had several applications give me a “security notice”. Sometimes it would just tell me unauthorized access has been blocked and sometimes it would tell me which app it blocked. You will know which applications it does not like because you will get the “Unfortunately … has stopped” message. For me, after 2 restarts, these apps were removed.

The solution to fix the problem is to simply re-install the application. If it was not removed, uninstall yourself. After I did all that, everything worked fine.

A customer had just upgraded to Windows 8.1 and after he did, the computer would no longer boot. A blue screen appeared, in same color as the Windows 8 blue screen of death, but with white lines and blocks instead of anything readable.

Some drivers do not upgrade properly to Windows 8.1. An often overlooked driver is the one the antivirus program uses. The ultimate problem was the version of McAfee that came with the computer was not compatible with Windows 8.1. (Not that I was surprised that McAfee was the cause of problems.) I had to remove McAfee in safe mode. View full article »


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