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Archive for the ‘Home Tech’ Category

Free Tool from F-Secure To Check If Your Password Was Compromised

Posted by robkraft on March 11, 2020

F-Secure has an easy online tool you can use to find out what sites leaked your email address, password, and other information.

The URL is: https://www.f-secure.com/en/home/free-tools/identity-theft-checker

F-Secure is a site I trust and recommend.  Just enter your email address and within minutes you will receive an email with information about each breach your email address was part of.

F-Secure has other tools at https://www.f-secure.com/en/home/products#free such as a tool to show your IP address, a tool to check your router for flaws, and an online virus scanner for your PC.

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Posted in Home Tech, I.T. | Leave a Comment »

How To Activate Function Key Lock On Your Lenovo Yoga

Posted by robkraft on June 14, 2019

This post is primarily for myself to find the answer when I need to change the default way function keys behave on my Lenovo computer again.

To do this, launch the “Lenovo Vantage” app in Windows 10.  From there select “Hardware Settings” and then “Input”.

LenovoVantage

Selecting the highlight option will cause your function keys to behave like most software programmers expect them to behave.  Very helpful for a developer like myself that is used to using F8 and F10, not to mention all the helpful Windows function keys:

https://www.computerhope.com/issues/ch000306.htm

Posted in Home Tech, I.T., Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

I Was A Victim of Microsoft’s Attempt to Fix Meltdown and Spectre

Posted by robkraft on April 15, 2018

If you’ve come here hoping for a rant against Microsoft, prepare to be disappointed.  Microsoft released a patch on January 5th, 2018 to attempt to fix Meltdown/Spectre problems.  That patch prevented one of my computers from booting after it was applied.  I am not upset with Microsoft for causing this problem while attempting to fix another program because I understand that fixing some problems are really difficult, and what works on one CPU may not work on another.  Fortunately for me, the computer affected by this patch was a computer I do not use often.

Unfortunately, this is a problem that would cause most people, anyone that does not consider themselves pretty good at fixing computer problems, from using the computer until they took it to someone else for repair.

Today I sat down to fix the computer.  The computer runs Windows 7.  The computer failed to boot on January 11th, 2018.  I discovered the boot failure a few weeks later and then discovered that I could not even enter Windows Safe Mode after rebooting the PC.  Knowing it would take some time to resolve the problem and that I might have a corrupt hard drive and never be able to resolve it, I put an attempt at resolution on hold.

Until today.

I used a Windows 10 bootable jump drive I already owned.  My HP machine allows me to press the ESC key to get to the “Boot Menu” and from there I could select the Jump Drive.  I chose to go to the command prompt.  From there, I found my C: drive (which was named E: in this boot) and found that all my backup files still existed.  I breathed a small sigh of relief then searched (dir /od) looking to find when the PC last successfully booted (which was January 11th), and I looked for an explanation of the problem by looking for what last happened on the machine.  I saw that Windows Update had activity just prior to the failure.  I then searched the Internet from another computer and quickly found the exact article I needed to fix the problem.

https://www.sevenforums.com/general-discussion/412283-windows-7-wont-start-after-update-5-jan-2018-a-2.html?s=059ef7f74b20ace7ea26687e027217b2

I used the information in the January 8th post by Wolfie1307 to run the following command and the command told me it succeeded (meaning that it successfully rolled back the attempted Windows Update).

dism /image:E:\ /remove-package /packagename:Package_for_RollupFix~31bf3856ad364e35~x86~~7601.24002.1.4(or whatever you copied) /norestart

It did not work for me on my first attempt because I was lazy and used the exact package name that Wolfie1307 provided in his/her post.  I needed to change the package name to include x86 instead of amd64 for mine to succeed, and I found the name of that package in the WindowsUpdate.log

I rebooted my computer and it is working again!

 

 

Posted in Home Tech, I.T. | Leave a Comment »

iTunes 12.7 Problem – Podcasts missing from Library

Posted by robkraft on October 22, 2017

It seems that most iTunes Upgrades either cause problems or remove features I use for managing the podcasts I listen to and 12.7 was no different.  This one took me an hour to resolve.  Unfortunately Apple has no information about this on their site and it is not easy to submit or get responses to support requests.  But I found the answer on another blog: https://appletoolbox.com/2017/09/apple-releases-new-itunes-12-7-what-you-should-know/#Where_Are_My_Podcasts

I am reposting the resolution on my blog in case I need to again, and maybe to reduce the time it takes for others to resolve the problem.

Posted in Home Tech, Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

The AntiVirus Software from AVG is Itself a Virus

Posted by robkraft on November 8, 2014

I’ve been personally trying different anti-virus packages for Windows 8.1 and I must report deep disappointment with the free version of AVG anti-virus.  I have two complaints:

  1. When I apply an upgrade of the software it changes my browser homepage to their own URL.  I did not ask it to do this and did not even see any option where I could prevent it.  But the default behavior of an upgrade should not be to make changes that I don’t want to my computer.  That is the definition of a virus, software that changes my computers in ways I don’t like to benefit the writers of the software.
  2. The second problem I had was that my settings in the browser telling Internet Explorer 11 what to do when I open a new tab would not stick.  Every time I rebooted the computer they changed back to the default settings, a blank tab.  It took me a while to track down the cause and the cause was an addin that AVG Antivirus installed in my browser.  I don’t mind the addin, but I do mind that it kept changing my IE settings.

I guess it is time to try a different package.  Microsoft Essentials does not do anything unexpected and can be trusted, but it also has the reputation as being the poorest at catching viruses.

Posted in Home Tech, I.T. | Leave a Comment »

How To Power On A Dead Nexus 7 Android Tablet That Won’t Boot At All

Posted by robkraft on January 1, 2014

I don’t use my tablet often, so I sometimes find that my Nexus 7 won’t boot when I power it on.  Not only does it fail to boot, it does not show any activity at all on the screen and I first thought the device was broken.  However, after searching the Internet I learned about similar reports from others and suggestions for getting the device working again.  I am writing this post so that I can find my own answer the next time I need to do this and hopefully provide the extremely precise instructions to help others.

Here is what I have to do when my Nexus 7 does not boot:

  1. Plug in the power to an electrical outlet.
  2. Hold down both the Volume Up and Volume Down buttons.
  3. While continuing to hold down both volume buttons, hold down the Power button for a few seconds.

At this point, a battery charging icon shows up on the screen and you can let go of all of the buttons.

From then on, you can occasionally press the power on button to see the battery charging icon.  If you look closely and wait long enough, you will notice that the battery charging icon appears to be more fully charged over time when it starts up.

Give it a few hours to charge, and then you should be able to unplug it from the power outlet and power it on and use it again.

Good luck!

On July 24th, 2014 this did not work for me, but when I tried this guy’s recommendation it did: http://www.droid-life.com/2012/12/27/fix-nexus-7-refusing-to-charge-try-this-trick/

Posted in Home Tech, I.T. | Leave a Comment »

Internet Explorer 10 is now the Best Browser in the Market

Posted by robkraft on March 2, 2013

I am loving the speed of the recently released Internet Explorer 10 (IE10) for Windows 7.  It is noticeably faster than Chrome.  It also has no problem rendering video and other content on sites that IE9 struggles with.

A few other minor improvements are nice such as the little ‘x’ added to every text box to allow you to clear the field and the icon for viewing your password that appears in every password protected field.  This is a long overdue security enhancement.  A lot of users choose simple passwords primarily because they struggle typing complex passwords when they cannot see what they have typed.

Text fields and some fonts render a little differently in IE10 than in IE9.  I don’t think they look better, but I think they probably render a little faster.  Once again, IE10 appears to be all about speed!

Posted in Free tools, Home Tech, I.T., Web Sites | Leave a Comment »

Carbonite Backs Up Well, But Does Not Restore Well

Posted by robkraft on July 23, 2012

I started using Carbonite in mid-June to back up all my important files on my PC.  Just a few weeks later a failed device driver installation began causing my PC to blue screen and I was unable to fix it.  Fortunately, I run inside a virtual machine, Microsoft Virtual Hard Drive (VHD), so I restored my VHD from my last VHD backup made at the end of June then went to Carbonite to download all the files that had changed since my end of June VHD backup.  That is when I learned what you may consider troubling truth about Carbonite.

While Carbonite is good at backing up your files, it is not so good at restoring them.  My first attempt at restoration, which required about 20 hours to restore 28,000+ files (an acceptable amount of time) appeared to work on the surface, and it even gave me a report showing all the files that it had restored.  But when I looked at my important files, none of them had newer date timestamps on them, and when I looked at the contents of the file they were not updated.  To make a long story short, after slowly spending 4 to 6 hours going through every tier of Carbonite support I reached the top tier who told me that, “Carbonite does not overwrite existing files.”  Apparently it only gives one the illusion that it does.

Now this restore solution may work fine if you have bought a new PC, re-installed the OS, and are looking to re-acquire all of your music and pictures, but if you are just restoring over some existing files and hope to get the latest version, you need to pick a new restore strategy.  Personally I think there are two flaws (three flaws) here:

1) Carbonite documentation and first three levels of support were not aware and could not convey to me that a full restore will not overwrite any existing files.

2) The report generated by the full restore indicated that a file had been restored.  The report should have said, “Can not restore over existing files when doing a full restore.”

3) There is no option to restore over existing files.  I understand the risk, so make me click four or five confirmation prompts first, but at least give me the option.

My recourse was to restore everything to a different set of folders, then hunt through all the restored files for files I cared about that had a datetime newer than my local version, and then manually copy the files into the new locations.

Posted in Home Tech, I.T. | Leave a Comment »

Don’t let Hackers Configure Your Router, Turn off UPnP

Posted by robkraft on October 23, 2011

Add this step to hardening your home and work networks against attacks from the Internet:

  • Turn your router’s UPnP off.

I previously thought that making sure all ports on the router were closed was sufficient to block attacks from the Internet, but it is not.  If your router supports UPnP, which most do now, you should disable this feature as recently reported by Daniel Garcia at H-Report.com:

http://www.h-online.com/security/news/item/UPnP-enabled-routers-allow-attacks-on-LANs-1329727.html

If you can disable UPnP on the WAN side of the router, do so.  If this isn’t possible, disable UPnP completely on the router.  UPnP is rarely needed by most users, but online gamers may benefit from UPnP to more easily connect to online gaming networks.

This article shows how to turn off UPnP in common Linksys routers:

http://www.informit.com/articles/article.aspx?p=461084

 

Posted in Home Tech, I.T. | Leave a Comment »

In home wireless cameras for less than $100 part 2

Posted by robkraft on August 27, 2011

My wife and I liked this camera so much that we bought a second camera.  Configuring the router to allow a second
camera is a little more complicated, so I thought I’d share my experience here.

  1. I discovered  a camera feature I did not know about once I bought my second camera.  The camera has a physical focusing lens on the front of the camera, you can spin the camera cover to improve the focus; so make sure you take a moment to do that to improve the image quality.
  2. With two cameras taking images based on motion detectors I decided I wanted to put the images from the second camera in a different folder on my FTP site.  This was easy to do, but I discovered that the path to my FTP site is limited to just 32 characters.  This is probably sufficient for most people.
  3. By default, your camera uses Port 80 to connect to the Internet, but if you are viewing two cameras from the Internet, they both cannot use Port 80.  You also cannot use a DMZ feature in your router that passes all traffic from the Internet to a single device.  Instead, you need to configure filters to tell your router to pass traffic coming in on one port (80) to one camera; and tell your router to pass traffic coming in on another port (I used 81) to the other camera.  Internally, I statically assigned 192.168.0.30 to one of my cameras, and 192.168.0.31 to the other.  Therefore, I configured Port 80 on my router/firewall to send traffic to 192.168.0.30; and I configured Port 81 on my router/firewall to send traffic to 192.168.0.31.  When we use the Internet to connect most any device, the Internet uses Port 80 by default; which means that we don’t need to type in the port number when we go to a web site like http://www.yahoo.com:80.  The same is true for your camera.  But since the second camera is listening on a different port (81 in my case), I need to enter the Port number on my URL when trying to view the camera from a web page or configuring it for viewing from my phone.  I simply enter http://xx.xx.xx.xx:81 and when the request from the Internet hits my home address of xx.xx.xx.xx, my home router will direct the request on Port 81 to the device at 192.168.0.31 as I configured it above.
  4. In my original blog post I had created an “Event config – schedule profile” that I used on my motion detector.  This is unnecessary for me because there is an “always” option you can choose in the “Event config – Motion Detect” configuration; which is what I desired anyway.
  5. If you do create an “Event config – schedule profile”, you must give it a name first, and then you must click on it to select it before the options for configuring your profile will appear.

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