Category: Tips and Hints


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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A lot of people think I dislike Apple products. I do not dislike Apple products; I prefer other products. I have no problem with the quality of Apple’s products. The customer service at Apple is excellent once you get customer service (read below). Here are the reasons why I avoid Apple products. Continue reading

This is a small tutorial on how I installed Cyanogenmod on my Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 version. Many of the tutorials are confusing and don’t explain important details. First, a warning. Samsung devices are designed so that if you dare to break free from their Android system, your warranty is void. This will void your warranty. (Personal opinion: it should be illegal to void a warranty if you do not make a device defective.)

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This is a problem that can have multiple causes. In the computer I was working on, the Bamital trojan had made it impossible to do anything. The trojan would prevent you from doing anything and wanted you to pay a ransom. This was different than Crytowall, which holds your files for ransom, in that this trojan held your computer for ransom. In the process of removing the trojan, I also removed a legitimate Windows file which caused the problem.

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