Archive for February, 2013

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.

UPDATE: Please note that newer CPU’s are incompatible with Windows 7, and thus incompatible with the Windows 7 disc. So you may have to use the Windows 10 disc instead. The process is still the same, just not as easy.

  1. Boot into the Windows 7 DVD and choose Repair Your Computer.
  2. 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.
  3. Open a command prompt.
  4. 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.)
  5. If using Windows XP or earlier, use the same commands except replace /nt60 with /nt52 in the bootsect command and do not use bcdboot.
  6. 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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Missing Taskbar in Windows XP

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.)
  • Reboot.
  • After Windows comes back, you it would be a good idea to scan for viruses and malware.

Office 2013 Is a Bad Deal

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.