The 1st anniversary of Windows 10

July 30, 2016 // Posted in General, Main (Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ) |  1 Comment

It’s the 1st anniversary of Windows 10

How are you getting on with windows 10?

 

 

Here are a few of my observations:

  • Too many ads, you can’t even play solitaire now without getting bombarded with Microsoft Ads. When you are paying for a system such as Windows 10 you should NOT be bombarded with ads IMO.
  • Too memory hungry, constant hangs whilst windows swaps to disk swap file as memory is always full.
  • Start up time is longer than XP and 7.
  • Many more ‘program is not responding’ messages and then after several minutes the message disappears and the program continues, probably linked to my second point.
  • AVG and Windows 10 between them lock up the PC whilst any updates or scans are running. Doesn’t happen on 7 or XP.
  • I have had to disable active tiles to help speed up Win 10, and disable various other items or Windows 10 runs very slow even on my Quad Core Processor running at 3.0GHz on each core.
  • I still feel that Windows 7 is the best version of windows to date.

Please comment to add your findings.

regards

Steve

WARNING – Domain Renewals

July 30, 2016 // Posted in General, Main (Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ) |  No Comments

WARNING! If you get an email about your Domain Renewal that looks something like this below, Ignore it. It Is a Scam. It has nothing to do with your domain expiring or the renewal of it but is a scam to get you to pay for SEO services that will never be provided. Only respond to domain renewal notices from your Domain Host.
These people monitor when domains are expiring and send this notice that looks like it is to do with your domain renewal in the hope that you fall for it and pay them your money.

regards
Steve

PayPal Security changes September 2016

March 25, 2016 // Posted in General, Main, Tips and Tricks (Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ) |  No Comments

Important PayPal changes you need to be aware of if you are using PayPal on your site:

 

PayPal are updating their Merchant security in September 2016, and it means that when sending transaction data to an IPN etc it will only communicate with secure connections (https://).

This means that you will need to update any scripts that currently use a non-encrypted connection such as IPN’s and will need to install an SSL on your server, if you do not already have one.

You need to also check that your php server supports HTTP1.1 and OpenSSL1.0.1 or higher:

You can check this using phpinfo:

I hope you find this useful,

regards

Steve

Bye Bye Internet Explorer 8, 9, and 10 next Tuesday

January 7, 2016 // Posted in General, Main (Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ) |  No Comments

ieMicrosoft is ending it’s support for Internet Explorer 8, 9, and 10 next week on January 12th.

Microsoft will be releasing a final patch and encouraging users to upgrade to one of the company’s more recent browsers (11 or Edge).

The end of support means that these older versions of Internet Explorer will no longer receive security updates or technical support, making anyone who uses them much more vulnerable to hackers.

The last patch will deliver a few bug fixes, as well as announcing the  “End of Life” notification telling users to upgrade to IE 11 or Microsoft Edge. But Windows XP and Vista users will not be able to upgrade to either as they will not work with XP or Vista, more incentive to upgrade XP and Vista installations which have already seen ‘End of Life”.

There are thought to still be several hundred million users using soon to be obsolete versions of Internet Explorer. Those users are about to put their systems into security risk state.

Ransomware Operation Taken Down by Cisco

October 7, 2015 // Posted in General, Main (Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ) |  No Comments

Computer Hi-Jacked?

Computer Hi-Jacked?

A ransomware operation that it is estimated netted $30million a year by installing ransom software on unsuspecting users computers has been disrupted by security researches at Cisco.

The Angler Exploit kit, also known as the hack-by-numbers tool is sold in underground crime forums to people who don’t want to go through the hassle of developing and testing exploits themselves. Angler has the ability to successfully infect an estimated 40 percent of the end users it targets using attack code that surreptitiously exploits vulnerabilities in browsers and browser plugins. In many cases, the security flaws have already been patched, but, in some cases the kits exploit zero-day vulnerabilities for which there is no currently available fix.

A large number of infected users were connecting to servers operated by service provider Limestone Networks. With the co-operation of Limestone and examining some of the servers they found that the single operation was targeting as many as 90,000 users a day.

“This is a significant blow to the emerging hacker economy where ransomware and the black market sale of stolen IP, credit card info and personally identifiable information  are generating hundreds of millions of dollars annually, Talos researchers wrote in a eport about the takedown.

More information at http://talosintel.com/angler-exposed/

My Experiences of Windows 10 and Privacy Issues

August 14, 2015 // Posted in Computer Tips, General, Main (Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ) |  No Comments

The best one yet

‘The best one yet’??

 

Ok, so I have been using Windows 10 for several days now and here are some of the issues I have found.

First of all there is the Windows Updates: When Windows 10 performs updates on close down, you do not get the old familiar Windows 7 messages “Installing Update x of xx, do not switch off your PC”, instead you just get a Black Screen with continuous hard drive activity, and it is easy to just hit the power switch thinking nothing is happening.

Then theres the Memory issues: One of which cause images to become just Black Squares in apps and thumbnails and icons, some browsers just go black when there a lot of images on a page. Now whether this is a Video Card Driver that Win 10 installed, or a memory management problem in Windows 10, I have yet to ascertain,  but I keep getting an error on shutdown that is something like “Access Violation, Memory error, windows is trying to access an invalid memory location”, which I never got on Windows 7.

Then there’s the Privacy Issues:  Some Windows 10 features, such as Cortana and Bing search, continue sending data to Microsoft, even when they are turned off. Some apps and services will communicate with the Microsoft servers, even when you tell them not to by the individual software’s privacy settings.

For example: Windows 10 will periodically send data, purported to be used for OneDrive,  for reasons unknown, even on a local account that isn’t connected to a Microsoft account. Why it is being sent is a mystery.

In at least one case, it has been found that information that can identify the user is also sent.

Cortana, will send data to Microsoft, even if it is disabled, and that data contains a computer ID that allows Microsoft to determine all the Cortana requests from the same computer.

And what’s more some of these connections would connect to Microsoft’s servers through unencrypted channels.

IMO, If you disable these services as you don’t want to use them, then that should really disable them and any data they would transmit.

My Experience of Windows 10 – Part 2

August 8, 2015 // Posted in Computer Tips, General, Main (Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ) |  No Comments

 Logging Into Windows 10, Updates and Memory

One thing I do not like about Windows 10, is that many functions require you to be logged into windows using an online Microsoft Account.

  1. I do not want to log in to windows using an Internet based Account.
  2. I do NOT want my personal data stored on a ‘Cloud’ based server.
  3. What happens if it is set to an online account to login and there is no Internet connection.
  4. Why can’t it just log in to the online account just to use that function such as Cortana, which has to have login via the online account?
  5. So Cortana is useless if you have no Internet connection?
  6. There are too many security issues logging in via an online account.
  7. I prefer to log in locally where my data is secure.

Windows 10 is also very memory hungry compared to Win 7, and even with my 4GB USB Ramdisk, is constantly buffering memory to a hard disk cache and has made some apps very slow because of this.

Windows 10 did an update Friday without asking, and I did a reboot of the machine, (that’s how I noticed it was doing something), there was no information that it was happening and on shutdown the screen went black although the hard disk was going crazy, so it was doing something. I left it for 3 hours and the hard drive had stopped being used but the screen was still black, and took a chance and switched off the machine and back on, then I got an opening message ‘Windows is configuring Updates 10%..’ etc and after another hours or so I got the welcome screen. I checked the windows update area and it says all updates were successful.

Not as clean and informative as Win 7.

More to follow

Upgrading Windows 7 to Windows 10

July 31, 2015 // Posted in Computer Tips, General, Main (Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ) |  1 Comment

The best one yet

‘The best one yet’??

My experience of upgrading from Win 7 to Windows 10:

 

‘The Best One Yet’ is Microsoft’s claim but is that really true?

Well I was all excited when I received my ‘Update is ready to Install’ message and had already read some of the claims for this important day.

  • Takes about 1 hour to update.
  • Get Cortana for Windows.
  • All your software will be available.
  • We will automatically update your Antivirus Software.
  • The best one yet.

But the problems started well before this day, as Microsoft said you will get an icon in your taskbar to claim and install your free upgrade if your current version is a legal version.

Well that failed straight away as I didn’t get my icon in the task bar. So after some checking, it appeared you had to install an Optional Update from Windows Update, (they said it was automatic), and you had to be running IE 11, mine was IE10, so that wasn’t mentioned. When I installed the optional update and IE11 I did eventually get my update icon in the taskbar. On clicking it said your computer is compatible with Windows 10 and all your software will run with Windows 10. That sounded positive.

Ok the ‘Your Upload is Ready’ button appeared, so I restarted windows to begin the install. After about 30 minutes of no apparent progress, the PC re-booted and there it was, Windows 7, as it was before. That was not expected, I expected a nice new Windows 10.

OK let’s try again.

In order to start again it had to re-download the update files (why, when it already had them), so a 2+ hour wait while it downloaded the 2+GB of files, and the ‘Your Update is ready to install’ again. So off we go.

Again after 30 minutes of what appeared to be doing nothing (but the hard drive light was going crazy), and the PC rebooted and hooray, Windows 7 again.

OK let’s check the update status, “Update failed error code –    failed code 80240020

What is this mysterious error code 80240020 (Why can’t make error messages meaningful, like ‘Could not do this or that’ instead of error Code 80240020?

Ok so it seems an issue with Windows Update so the solution might be to reset Windows Update:

So:

  • went to C:\Windows\SoftwareDistribution\Download and deleted everything in the folder (not the folder).
  • open a command prompt with run as administrator and type wuauclt.exe /updatenow and hit enter, then type exit and hit enter again.
  • Go to windows update and The Windows 10 update is downloading again!! Another two hours.

After the download, the ‘Your update is ready’ message again, so another re-boot, 30 minutes of hard drive activity, but this time a message saying ‘Windows is configuring your updates 5%….’ etc. Perhaps this is a good sign?

After about 1 hour (remember Microsoft claiming the Update will take approx 1 hour’? Well we are at about 7 hours now already, and it isn’t because I have a slow machine, I have a Intel quad core processor with each processor running at up to 3.2GHz), another auto reboot and a new screen, looks like we are getting somewhere now, a big circle in the middle of the screen shows the current progress, this stayed on 1% for over 20 minutes. Almost 3 hours and 4 reboots  later 100%, Yay ..

Another re-boot and a new welcome screen, logged in and, and, and just a black screen, better not do anything as the hard drive is doing something, goodness knows what. One hour later windows started (perhaps this is the One Hour Microsoft was talking about?

Then another message ‘We are updating some settings and apps for you’, after another 40 minutes ‘This is taking a little longer than usual – please wait’ , eventually the message changed to ‘Almost there now’ , wait, wait, wait.

Eventually a bright new windows 10 interface. (Looks pretty similar to Win 7, with a few display enhancements, perhaps that was why 7 could be upgraded and not a new install?).

Now the fun begins, remember Microsoft said , we will set up your programs for you and update your current anti-virus software? And they said my programs were all compatible with Win 10. Nuh. Windows 10 removed my antivirus software (AVG) and PC TuneUp (AVG) completely.

Tried a repair on them as they both still appeared in the Add/Remove programs, and although they both said successful, they both failed. So uninstalled both and re-installed, and eventually they are working.

I haven’t yet checked all programs, to see if they are all there, not very confident that they will be.

Ah Hah, just remembered, let’s try out Cortana or whatever it’s called, they say you must have an English System (Check), your region must be set to Uk,US etc (Check set to UK), try to access Cortana, message “You cannot use Cortana in your Region”), I live in Thailand., but my region is set to UK as is my language, and these are the requirements Microsoft says, so it looks as though it looks at your IP address and blocks it on that. So does that mean that if you have active Cortana in the UK if you take a trip to another unsupported region (by IP address) Cortana doesn’t come with you?

Then there’s the new Edge Shop – Can’t get that to work for love nor money, for free items, just keeps saying try again later.

It’s not going well is it?

Then there’s the unconfigurable display interface, the squared forms with no borders etc that are not very elegant or appealing, IMO, and no way to change them like in 7 and earlier versions.

There was another claim about Windows 10 that Microsoft made, ‘it’s Faster’ – Sorry Microsoft – I have to disagree there, it is much slower starting up that Win 7, programs load slower, Win 10 uses much more memory (and 32 bit still not able to use more than 4GB), which means the disk cache is used more and again slows things down.

So I am not that impressed as yet, and certainly think the “The best Yet’ is not a totally true statement.

I will now have a play for a few days and post again once I have fully tested it. Watch this Space!

Steve

 

 

 

 

 

Win7 – 2 ways to stop some of the hangs

September 15, 2014 // Posted in Computer Tips, Tips and Tricks (Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ) |  1 Comment

win7sDo you get hangs in Win 7 and sometimes cannot open programs or click on menu items?

Here is how to fix issues from two sources:

1. 16 Bit Programs – “16 bit programs in Win7?”, I hear you say. Yes believe it or not Windows 7 has several programs that run in 16 Bit mode, particularly some of the message pop-ups used by the system and UAC (User Access Control).

The pop-up from UAC, you know, the one that comes up to say “Do you want to let this program …….”, this often hangs and the program selected doesn’t load, and if you look in Task Manager you will see one or more copies of consent.exe (used by UAC) running but doing nothing, occasionally you may get a message to say ‘Too many 16 Bit programs are running’.

I too, was amazed when I discovered Win7 still used 16 Bit programs, I thought they all disappeared with Windows 98, or at least XP, but no Win 7 still uses them.

Because of that the 16Bit programs rely on the files and buffers settings in the config.sys file (remember that from the Windows98 and XP days). In many installations you will not find a config.sys file in the root folder, or there may be one that is set to hidden and system so you don’t see it in file explorer.

Let’s get back to fixing the hanging by UAC and the not being able to click buttons etc.

Create a new text file in notepad or the like and add the following two lines:

FILES=120
BUFFERS=1000

Then save the file with the name config.sys to your desktop.

Copy the file on the desktop and then in my computer open the root folder on drive C and paste the file.  You may get an “access denied” message.

If this happens you may want to view all hidden and system files to see if config.sys exists, if it does view it in notepad and you may see some text in it, but most likely it will either be empty or just contain FILES=20. If there is other text in there copy it and paste it into the config.sys file you just created on your desktop after the text you added, (remove the FILES=20 and leave the FILES=120 you added) and save the file.

Copy your file again and then select Start > All Programs > Accessories, right click Windows Explorer and select ‘Run As Administrator’ say Yes to the prompt. Browse to the root folder on C and paste the file you copied, you may get a ‘File exists overwrite?” this time say yes to overwrite and you new config.sys file will be in place.

Re-Boot your PC and you should no longer get the hangs when you start a program.

2. AVG Anti-virus and Constant Disk access and high disk queues in resource manager – If you are running AVG Internet Security 2014, you may have noticed that most of the time your hard disk in use light is permanently on and programs become very slow to respond and open or save files. Folders too are slow to open and icons or previews take ages to appear.

I have narrowed this down to AVG antivirus, and have found that after about 3 months following installation, something goes awry in AVG, and it starts constantly accessing the hard drive (Even when scans are not running or the PC is idle), so your hard drive is working it’s socks off and has to queue access by other programs whilst it waits for a break in AVG’s access, this makes your other programs slow and puts excessive load and wear on your hard drive which can lead to hard disk failure, not something you really want.

Here’s my fix, and it works every time for me. (make sure you have your license key ready as you will need it).

  • Download the AVG Full Installer (not the on-line installer) you can get it here http://www.avg.com/ww-en/download
  • Uninstall AVG from Control Panel > Add/Remove Programs.
  • Reboot your PC
  • Install AVG from the file you downloaded.
  • Wait for the updates to install or if they don’t start automatically, Choose Check for Updates.
  • When you see the AVG is up to date, reboot your PC.
  • Next time you use your PC once Win7 has loaded everything and settled down, watch the hard drive light, It hardly ever comes on except when loading a program, saving, or a quick flash every now and again.
  • Your hard drive will now last much longer than it would have done, and is less likely to fail.

Hope you find these useful

regards

Steve

 

 

 

Warning – Do Not Install Winzip Driver Updater

June 27, 2014 // Posted in Computer Tips, General, Main (Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ) |  No Comments

I received an email today from WinZip asking me to download FREE their driver updater program.

Being a winzip user for many years I thought I would give it a try from what I believed to be a reputable company.

However, I soon found out that they are not as reputable as I thought.

Why? I hear you ask.

1. The download was from their own site, and following the install AVG reported that one of the files in the installation pack was Malware that installs an adware program on your PC called MalSign.Systweak.44F, AVG soon fixed and removed the malware. This is not good from what should be a trustworthy supplier.

2. I ran the program to see what drivers could be out of date, The Winzip Driver Updater reported that all 23 drivers were out of date and needed updating, this seemed a little strange as my PC is relatively new and has only had all drivers installed in the past 8-9 months. I thought I would try updating one of the drivers so I could check the version etc., but I could not as the program said I had to pay for a ‘Full’ version to update any out of date drivers. I therefore decided to uninstall the program as I wasn’t going to pay for software that wanted to update all my drivers.

Once I uninstalled it, I tried windows update to see if they found any drivers out of date : Result – No drivers out of date.

Then I tried AVG’s PC Tune Up and guess what : RESULT – ALL Drivers are up to date.

Then I tried ASC’s (Advance System Care) Driver Booster and again guess what: RESULT – You have the latest drivers – no updates needed.

So it is clear to me that Winzip send you a ‘FREE’ download of a program that no matter what drivers you have, say they are all out of date just to get you to buy a version that allegedly updates those ‘out of date’ drivers’.

This is clearly a scam and not what you would expect from what seems to be a reputable company. They clearly are NOT reputable and this type of practice should be able to be punished in law some way, as it is misleading, makes false claims and  promises and is in my opinion,  fruadulant.

You have been warned – don’t get caught out. Use AVG Pc Tune Up or ASC Driver Booster (FREE) instead.

Steve

 

 

 

 

 

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