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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

Did you Know that the Internet is Controlled by 14 People with 7 Keys?

March 3, 2014 // Posted in General, Main (Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ) |  No Comments

Keys to the internet

Keys to the internet

From a report by Business Insider.

The Internet Is Actually Controlled By 14 People Who Hold 7 Secret Keys

 

 

This sounds like something out of a James Bond Movie, but it isn’t: The whole Internet is controlled by seven actual, physical keys.

 

It all happens at a ‘Key Ceremony’.

The people conducting the ceremony are part of an organization called the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). ICANN is responsible for assigning numerical Internet addresses to websites and computers and translating them into the normal web addresses that people type into their browsers.

 

For instance, type 64.27.101.155 into your browser, and you’ll be taken to Business Insider’s web page. But www.businessinsider.com is easier for people to remember. ICANN maps the numbers (easier for computers to use) with words (easier for humans to use).

 

If someone were to gain control of ICANN’s database, that person would control the Internet. For instance, the person could send people to fake bank websites instead of real bank websites.

 

On the other hand, if a calamity happened, the ICANN database could need to be rebuilt. So ICANN came up with a way to do that without entrusting too much control to any one person. It selected seven people as key holders and gave each one an actual key to the Internet. It selected seven more people to be backup keyholders: 14 people in all.

 

The physical keys unlock safety deposit boxes stashed around the world. Inside those boxes are smart keycards. Put the seven smartcards together and you have the “master key.” The master key is really some computer code, a password of sorts, that can access the ICANN database.

 

Four times a year since 2010 the seven keyholders meet for the key ceremony where they generate a new master key, i.e. a new password.

 

The security to be admitted to the ceremony is intense, and involves passing through a series of locked doors using key codes and hand scanners, until entering a room so secure that no electronic communications can escape it.

 

The group conducts the ritual, then each person files out of the room one by one, and then they all head to a restaurant and party.

See the latest ceremony here: Link to video: Who holds the seven keys to the internet?

Installing VB6 on Windows 7

July 10, 2013 // Posted in Computer Tips, Main (Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ) |  1 Comment

I know this post is not about PHP but I feel it may me useful to someone.

VB6

VB6

Microsoft say that you can only install VB6 on Win7 in a virtual machine in XP Mode. That is an issue if you do not have Win 7 Ultimate or Professional as XP Mode is not available for Windows 7 Home.

So here’s how to get it running on Win 7.

I have tested this on Win7 32 Bit, and know others that have also installed successfully on 64Bit.

Please Note: It will not work on Windows 8 as VB6 support has been removed from Windows 8.

    • Start by creating a zero-byte file in C:\Windows called MSJAVA.DLL. To do this create a text file in notepad with nothing in it and save it in a folder with the name MSJAVA.DLL. Then browse to the file, copy it and paste it in c:/windows, click Yes to the prompt to use administrator privileges.
    • Next turn off User Access control. To do this go to control panel, click System Security, then Click Change User Account Control Settings, move the slider right down to the bottom and click OK.
    • Insert your VB6 CD and click the view files (do not auto-run) and browse to the setup.exe, right click it and select Run As Administrator. You will get various incompatibility messages just ignore them and continue.
    • Select Custom Setup and check the boxes against:
      • Microsoft Visual Basic 6.0
      • ActiveX
      • Data Access
      • Graphics
      Only the above.
    • Next browse to C:\Program Files\Microsoft Visual Studio\VB98\ and find the vb6.exe file. Right click it and select properties. Go to the Compatibility tab and select the following only:
      • Run this program in compatibility mode for Windows XP (Service Pack 3)
      • Disable Visual Themes
      • Disable Desktop Composition
      • Disable display scaling on high DPI settings
    • Install the Service Pack 6, again by right clicking the setup.exe file and selecting Run as Administrator.
    • Finally as there may be some registration issues for some ocx’s download and run the vb6 runtime for Win7  (available from Microsoft here)
    • Switch User access Control Back on.
    • You are now good to go.
    • Enjoy.

I hope that is useful to someone

Steve

Some information for this post was gleaned from http://www.fortypoundhead.com/showcontent.asp?artid=20502, thanks to fortypoundhead.

Recovering from a Hard Disk Failure

July 6, 2013 // Posted in Main (Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ) |  No Comments

Computer Crash

Computer Crash

A few days ago I returned from hospital to a catastrophic computer crash.

I switched on my laptop and my hard drive, that is monitored by software that reported it was in 100% condition and 100% free of errors, went pop and  was reported as ‘Not Present’.  I had two weeks earlier backed up most of my data files and some other files, but there was about two weeks work (a lot of work), that had not been backed up. I decided to try and read the drive in my wife’s PC, bad move, the hard drive obviously had a major short, as it wiped out the keyboard and USB controller of the wife’s PC (she was not happy!).

The next major concern came, as I was still on XP Professional, resisting the change to 7 or 8 as long as possible, so I had to get a new Laptop, and decided perhaps this was the time to upgrade to Win 7 or 8. Another bad move!

I bought a new Acer Aspire with an i5 Intel multi-core processor, 4GB of ram, Nvidia Graphics, USB3, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Webcam and HDMI which had Linux pre-installed, and a shiny new copy of Windows 7.

After several hours I did manage to get Windows 7 installed, but the windows drivers supplied with the PC, could I get them to work? could I hell. I couldn’t even get a network connection so I could search for drivers on the Internet, and I had already destroyed the wife’s PC, so couldn’t use that either. After about 10 hours I eventually managed to get an internet connection using some old drivers I had on disk temporarily and a USB Ethernet stick.  I spent a day and a half trying to search for the drivers and eventually managed to get most of the drivers.

The biggest problem was the graphics drivers and the drivers for the Nvidia card, all the drivers I tried from Nvidia said the card didn’t exist. Eventually I went to the Intel site, the site scanned my system and said it had found some better drivers than I already had and installed them for me, and interestingly, it found drivers for items that were not Intel components and that the Microsoft and Acer sites couldn’t find.

So eventually I got what appears to be drivers for every component and even the Nvidia card.

Installing Windows 7 was a nightmare too, after about 12 re-boots to get the basic installation complete, it took all of one day to install the basic system before I started looking for drivers.

Then there’s the updates, every time I shut down the PC, Windows says it has found a load of updates, ‘Do Not switch OFF your computer’. Surely when you buy new software it should be reasonably up to date on updates? Apparently not, the first six times I shut down, it found over 30 updates, and took at least 2 hours to install them each time. And then the next time I switched on  Configuring recent Updates – Do Not Switch OFF your PC ‘, which took another hour or so. On one occasion when I switched off it said it had found 143 Updates!   When will these updates stop?

OK, so now I have the PC set up after 5 days, time to put my software on, item after item first you get ‘Do you want this program to modify your system?’ – I just ran it – What do you think Windows? Who the hell put that prompt in that comes up every time you install or run a program? I hope he no longer works at Microsoft.

Time after Time, ‘The program you are trying to install is not compatible with this version of windows’, many of which were Microsoft programs.

This must be a Microsoft scam to get you to buy more software. Then another program said you must upgrade to Ultimate or Professional to run this software, OK let’s have a look at the anytime upgrade offer, £125 to upgrade!!! that’s almost double the amount I have already paid for this version, think we’ll pass on that.

So now I have a New PC eventually installed and now need to recover all my backed up files from my three Network Storage Drives, No problems here then, this is straight forward eh?

Wrong!  The first NAS, no problem copied the files, second NAS worked brilliantly on XP, why can’t I access it? Search through help and troubleshooter, ‘the type of NAS is not supported by Windows 7’ was the reply, GRRR!!!, third NAS, same problem.

So another day trying to get round the ‘Not compatible’ and I managed to make them compatible with a bit of jiggerie pokerie. So now I have my files, but of course all my online passwords and bookmarks were saved in the browsers on the last PC. OOPS, I haven’t got them any more. So another day trying to recover passwords of the main sites and services I need to use.

OK let’s check the emails, Oh No, what are all the settings and passwords for them? They were all in Outlook and I haven’t got a back up of them. That’s another day gone trying to re set up them.

This is turning into a nightmare.

So I now have about 50% of what I had before set up, and time to try out windows 7, ‘Better than XP’, Microsoft say. hangs, crashes, slow, weird things happening, stupid  messages popping up every time you run or open anything, I am as yet unimpressed. Yes it has a prettier interface, but what were simple tasks on XP appear to be very more difficult on 7, I have a multi-core processor now, whereas I only had a dual core before, I have double the memory but can only use half of it as the super gaming video card uses half of it, I don’t play games, can I have the memory back? Nope, and the system runs slower than the old machine with the ‘old’ software.

After all this and over a week getting up and running again, I feel like I have gone backwards, I want my XP back!!

I can now see why some people just give up, I feel that I am an experienced PC user and programmer, and even I was close to suicide at one or two stages during this process, so I can understand how less experienced users must feel.

Surely the idea is that as things advance, they get more sophisticated and more powerful, but with advancing technology, surely they should be made easier to use and set up. It must be possible (or at least should be) to make these things more intelligent so that they sort themselves out, and it wouldn’t take a lot to make them backward compatible with previous systems surely.

Well I have had my moan, now I have some advice for you, if you do not want to go through all this, make sure you back up EVERYTHING regularly, because if you don’t back up EVERYTHING, when you try to start again after your hard drive dies, there will be data files saved by programs, and by you, or other configuration files that you will need to get fully up and running again, or like me you will find that files you now need were not backed and you have to start from scratch.

In the past when I have had a hard disk failure, I have luckily been able to recover everything off the drives. This time I was not so lucky, and have learned a harsh lesson. I will not forget to backup everything from now on.

Speak to you again soon.

Steve

 

 

 

 

 

 

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