Category: Tips and Hints


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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This post has been updated.

A lot of people think I dislike Apple products. I once had no problem with the quality of Apple products, but that has changed. Now, because of how lousy the quality is and how horribly Apple treats the customer, I strongly recommend you avoid any and all Apple products like the plague. I am going to links to Youtube videos that show how Apple has no problem lying to you and treating you like dirt. No other company can treat people the way Apple does and stay in business. 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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These antivirus recommendations are personal opinion based on my experience. I will list many common ones below in alphabetical order. This post will occasionally be updated. The last update was November 15, 2017.

One important note: Regardless of which antivirus program you use, you should never ever use automatic renewal. This will prevent accidental renewals in case you want to use a different antivirus program. Make the company earn your business; don’t be loyal to any one product.

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By default, Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 has enabled settings that track you for advertising. Windows 8.1 and 10 also try desperately to have you log in to your computer with a Microsoft account. Those settings should be disabled and you should never log in with a Microsoft account because several of my customers have had trouble logging in when they used a Microsoft account to do so. Logging with a non-Microsoft account makes it harder for Microsoft to deliver you targeted advertising. Just because it is very difficult does not mean we should willingly surrender our privacy. The steps included below are current as of the Spring 2019 update (1903). Some of what you will see on computer purchased in the store will be different than below, but the majority of the steps are the same. Older versions of Windows may be slightly different too.

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