Category: Tips and Hints


This is a question I am asked from time to time: what can I do to save money on my cable television bill? Likely you have noticed your cable or satellite TV bill go up and up. What you may not realize is that the most of the price hikes are not because of the satellite or cable TV provider. Greedy cable TV providers, such as Disney and Viacom, charge a fee to rebroadcast their channel. Even though they keep finding ways to pack more and more commercials per hour, they still charge a fee per channel. This would not be so bad except that these same greedy pigs also require you to purchase their shows in packages. For example, you cannot just get the History channel and nothing else, you also have to get Discovery channel and TLC and so on. If that wasn’t bad enough, local stations that you can get free with an antenna also make the cable provider pay a fee to rebroadcast. And when the greedy pigs want more money, they play the victim and ask you to demand your cable provider to keep the channels even though the channels are going away only because your provider doesn’t want to pay them more money.

Still, despite the deck being stacked against you by channel creators, you can save money. But it does require a little bit of technical know-how. Some much more than others.

Before we begin, I strongly do recommend you get a good universal remote regardless, such as Logitech Harmony remotes. You can program these where you push a button that is labeled, for example, “Watch TV” and it turns everything on and does all the changes needed to your TV or stereo. However you decide, save up some money and get a good universal remote to make life easy.

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I had a customer who had trouble installing Windows 10 Fall Creator’s Update (Feature Update 1709) and who had Trend Micro antivirus. For some reason, Windows said it wouldn’t install because Trend Micro 2009 was installed. Some people have noted that Windows balks about other older versions. This link was a good start. But the problem remained.

What fixed it for me was to go to the registry key HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\AppCompatFlags\UpgradeMigration, delete the file or folder listed, and then delete the registry key data. Most likely the update still won’t install normally. So I took a chance and choose the option to restart and update. That worked. So if you have an old program possibly causing issues, go to that registry key and then reboot and update instead of using the normal update way.

Here is a problem I just encountered. Windows was getting past the initial boot screen and then looked like it would let you log in. But before you could or before you could even enter a password, it immediately began to shut down. Safe mode worked just fine. The problem ultimately was a bad Intel driver. Specifically, the Intel Dynamic Platform and Thermal Framework Generic driver. Once I disabled that, everything worked fine.

If your computer will not let you log in for any reason then most likely it is a driver causing the problem.

Here is what did not work. I first turned off fast boot because it causes more problems than it helps. Everyone should turn off fast boot, no exception. The user account had no password, so putting in a password in safe mode didn’t help either. It would shut down before you even log in. I couldn’t try Last Known Good Configuration because Microsoft in their idiotic selves decided to remove this most helpful feature. Seriously, the people who decided to get rid of that and F8 need to smack hard in the head every day for the rest of their life, and twice on Sunday. I am not joking. Neither did System Restore or system refresh work.

I only figured this out by doing a fresh install. When I installed the Intel drivers, immediately the system began to shut down. So in Safe Mode, I disabled all Intel drivers and then re-enabled them in a normal boot one-by-one until I found the problem driver. There may be more than one problem driver, so make sure you repeat until all possibles have been found.

Imagine if the FBI asked you to put a device in your house that is always listening. The FBI promises us that it will only listen for certain things, such as gunshots or the voices of people on the FBI’s most wanted list. In exchange for this device that is always listening, you are getting greater safety. After all, if someone fired a handgun in your house, the FBI device can automatically dispatch the police much faster than you could dial 911. Would you volunteer for that?

Just change a few words and you have people not only volunteering but paying money to do so. Imagine if Google asked you to buy a device for your house that is always listening. Google promises us that it will only listen for certain things, such OK Google. In exchange for this device always listening, you are getting some convenience. After all, if you wanted to make coffee, OK Google can automatically start your coffee maker faster than you could.

And what convenience! I can unlock my door with my smartphone. I can turn on my lights without using my legs. I can find out about something without the hassle of typing.

Here is the bottom line: Can you really trust a for-profit business to permanently respect your privacy? (Especially one whose business it isĀ not to respect your privacy.) Can you really trust that these devices will always be secure?

Smart homes are a dumb idea. And I can also say smart cars are a dumb idea as well. These are all solutions looking for a problem.

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These are the instructions to make a cloned drive bootable again if the original had bad sectors. These instructions are only applicable for any Windows that uses the BCD, which is Vista and beyond, and has a MBR. You will need a Windows 7 or later DVD or equivalent USB stick; a Windows Vista disc will be harder. This assumes that the OS files were cloned successfully.

  • Run chkdsk on all the partitions.
  • Identify which partition has the BCD files. If there is a recovery partition, chances are good the BCD is stored on that drive.
  • Use the following commands in the diskpart program:
    • LIST DISK (use this command to identify the cloned hard drive number)
    • SELECT DISK # (where # is the cloned hard drive number)
    • LIST PARTITION (use this command to identify the partition with the BCD files)
    • SELECT PARTITION # (where # is the partition with the BCD files)
    • ACTIVE
    • EXIT
  • Now run the following commands: (Of course, some are redundant!)
    • bootsect /nt60 sys /force
    • bootrec /fixboot
    • bootrec /fixmbr
    • bcdboot d:\windows /s c: (where d:\ is the drive letter with all your Windows files and c: is the system partition from above)
      • NOTE: Usually but not always the system partition is given the driver letter c:. If it was not given any drive letter, you will have to use the diskpart commands to assign it a drive letter. But it some cases it may not be c:, in some cases it may be on the same drive as your Windows files.
  • Reboot.
  • If problems still persist, run startup repair.

Earlier this year, I bought two identical USB drives for my repair tools. I spent a lot of time making the repair tools USB drive just the way I needed, so I rightly wanted a backup. USB drives always fail, and when you use one as much as I do, they fail quickly. This was, of course, the reason why I bought two identical USB drives. I decided to use Clonezilla to make the backup. I have had a lot of success copying drives with Clonezilla.

Today I tried to recover my backup using Clonezilla. I spent one hour trying. No matter what options I chose, what I did, it would not succeed. The error message it gave me corresponded to a disk too small, but how could an identical drive of an identical size be smaller than the original? Anyway, lesson learned. Now I will have to spend a lot of time re-creating my USB drive. This time, I am going to use a different backup program.

Many of my customers are confused about the various cable standards. This blog post will explain in just a little detail what each cable standard is and what is the purpose of it. But it will only deal with external cables, not the ones inside your computer.

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This was a problem I encountered today. I set a customer’s homepage to what she wanted, but every time I opened Internet Explorer, it would go to one of those suspicious websites, this one was www-searching.com. The customer’s brother loaded a bunch of those junk free but not free potentially-unwanted-programs. Even after cleaning with Malwarebytes and Rogue Killer, the malicious website remained.

It turns out that one of those programs modified the shortcut for Internet Explorer. With IE and Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox and Opera and, well … any browser, if you add a website to after the program, it will load that website. So if I type “C:\Program Files (x86)\Mozilla Firefox\firefox.exe” www.google.com, the browser will open up and go to google.com ignoring what my homepage is set to. If the shortcut is modified so that a malicious website is added after the program name, then whenever you click on the icon to load the browser it will load that malicious website. Simply remove anything after the program file name and you will be good to go.

I currently own the Asus RT-AC66U router and I love it. I’ve had it for over a year and it has been steady as a rock. But with this “cloud first, mobile first” (and customer last) philosophy of Microsoft, I was looking for a way to make my router block all that tracking that is in Windows 10 and trying to be in Windows 7 and 8. Block it at the router level and Microsoft can’t do a thing about it. According to Asus, the RT-AC66U router supports DD-WRT. This is a requirement. If your Asus router does not support DD-WRT, then this how-to will not help. Fortunately you don’t need to install DD-WRT. DD-WRT can a pain to install on a router. You do need to install the Merlin firmware, which you can download here.

This is an advanced how-to meant for more technical people.

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If you haven’t received a phone call from “Microsoft” yet, you will soon. If the IRS or the FBI or your electric company haven’t called you demanding you pay money now or you will go to jail or get your service disconnected, you will soon. Thanks to cheap, disposable internet telephones scammers can do what they want with little chance of being caught. It goes beyond that.

What is malvertising? Put simply, it is a web advertisement whose only purpose is to scam you or plant malicious software on your computer. Malvertising works because advertisers have no respect for you and thus have no respect for your privacy. I have some rules below for advertisers which, if followed, will immediately destroy malvertising. A new type of malvertising menace is when the malicious ad redirects your browser to a website and tells you to call a toll free number. The good ones know if you are using Windows or Mac.

What can you do to protect yourself? Know how to identify a scam.

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