21 Oct


You can extract a full quality image out of any YouTube video, if you know how. Say you wanted to grab this picture of Keely Hazell:-

1) Press: CTRL + U (Don’t be alarmed, you will get a page of code)
2) Press: CTRL + F
3) Typ: thumbnailurl


21 Oct


Bit of a strange one — and a reboot was required to get it working, but basically, the Start Button and Taskbar were not responding to being clicked, left or right and the user could not shut the PC down without a hard reset.

17 Oct


So, what’s happened about nasty TRANS FATS?
Trans fats are banned in Europe and gradually being phased out in the US.

So they’re not safe?
Imagine boiling veg oil for 3 hours and passing hydrogen bubbles through it under high pressure. Does that sound safe to you?

So they’re gone now, yeah?
No, they are only banned in shops, not restaurants. And products that make trans fats are still out there too. Also, the food industry has renamed some trans fats as emulsifiers, side stepping the ban.

Like what products?
Any polyunsaturated fat or oil e.g. spreads, veg oils that you can heat. When you fry things in them, trans fats are created.

I thought polyunsaturates were good? 
They are when you eat them in fish, eggs, olives, nuts etc. They are broken down into essential fatty acids that carry out important bodily functions.

Why are trans fats so bad?
Because they look like normal good fatty acids and your body incorporates them into bodily functions that now go badly wrong. A bit like a bug in the software.

Can’t your body see they’re bad?
No, because trans fats are man made and new to us. We have no defence against them yet. There are natural trans fats in animal produce but they are thought to be inert.

What problems do they create?
Many problems have been linked to man made trans fats…diabetes, arthritis, insulin resistance, multiple sclerosis, inflammation, metabolic syndrome eg heart disease, damage to blood vessels to name a few.

So what should I do?
Use animal fats instead e.g butter, lard, dripping. The fatty acids that they contain are not used for bodily functions, only energy, so even if you could create trans fats they can’t hurt.

I thought animal fats were unhealthy?
Not at all, humans have always eaten some animal fats. Even chimpanzees are partially omnivorous. Animal fats deliver vitamins too because many vits are fat soluble.

But what about animal fats and heart disease?
There’s no link, its becoming clear we got it wrong. Google “Ancel Keys”. Human breast milk is full of saturated animal fat (think about it). Cholesterol is NOT a contributory factor to heart disease either.

So how do I avoid them?
Cook your own food at home with animal fat, never eat deep fried food out, don’t eat crisps, biscuits, crackers or anything with mono or diglycerides or emulsifier (labelled as E472e) found in cheap bread. Use proper butter for spread and gentle fying and eat fish, eggs, olives and nuts.

What about omega 6?
That’s vegetable oil. Avoid. You want to eat omega 3 (e.g fish, nuts, olives, eggs)

My doctor says I shouldn’t eat saturated fat.
He’s one of the 70% of GPs that still doesn’t get it. He probably prescribes statins too, another travesty. If 1000 people took statins for 3 years, only 2 will be prevented from suffering a fatal heart attack, so over 99% will not benefit but have all the dangerous side effects including joint pain, neuro-degenerative diseases, etc. And remember, a 20 minute walk per day will protect you from heart attack without side effects.

I’m nearly 50, isn’t it a bit late for me?
No. If you are still feeling healthy then your immune system has been mopping up well. Steer clear of trans fats from now on.

Butter can’t be spread from the fridge.
Don’t keep it in the fridge. Buy a butter dish and leave it out.

It goes off too quickly.
Keep only half of it out of the fridge then.

Why do restaurants still use veg oils?
It’s cheap! That’s all there is to it. You can bet they don’t change their oil very often, either. And they probably don’t know trans fats are being created.

When will restaurants go back to animal fats?
Probably never, they’re far too expensive. Remember, veg oils are cheap. The public would have to boycott all restaurants to make a change, just like some of us boycotted trans fats in the shops. By the way, Rick Stein, James Martin, Heston Blumenthal, Mary Berry and many other well-known cooks and chefs are using dripping now! Dr Carina Norris, the nutritionist on Channel 4’s Turn Back Your Body Clock, says: ‘Now that we know sugar and refined carbohydrates are worse for us than we thought, it’s a good time to reassess the old-fashioned foods we have dismissed. ‘We need fats to help our bodies absorb vital vitamins, including vitamin A, which helps the digestive system, vitamin D for bone growth, vitamin E, which aids the immune system, and vitamin K, which helps blood to clot.”

17 Oct


This is a link to a review I found online, having tested the following online backup solutions:

The Best Cloud Backup – 30 Services Compared

10 Oct


In order to stay safe on the Internet and to guard against being hacked, please:

  • DON’T accept a phone call from Microsoft
  • DON’T accept a phone call from Google

Also, please:

  • DON’T call Microsoft on the phone
  • DON’T call Google on the phone

If you ever feel like you need to call them because your computer is running slowly, or there’s something not working, DON’T. Google do not offer phone support and Microsoft don’t speak to the public via telephone. Google or Microsoft will never offer to “remote into your PC and fix it

6 Oct


What to do if Windows Update is not working. Excerpts are taken from this article:-


The new method involves downloading some updates from the Microsoft Update Catalog and seems more reliable but you must use Internet Explorer to download the updates. If you visit the Microsoft Update Catalog with another browser these downloads will not work. To access the Microsoft Update Catalog you must use Internet Explorer. In Control Panel, choose Windows Update, Change Settings and set to Never Check. Open Internet Explorer and copy and paste this URL into the address bar: http://catalog.update.microsoft.com/v7/site/home.aspx The first update to search for is KB3020369, then search for the second update KB3172605. Restart your system, the go back to Control Panel, Windows Update and choose to Check for Updates. Wait patiently…  The Microsoft servers are also very busy after Patch Tuesday (the second Tuesday of every month) and several days after that as millions of systems around the world are being updated.


6 Oct


Servers used to hinge everything together in the office computing environment of the 90s and 00s including files, email and remote access, but now with the advent of high bandwidth Internet you no longer need that single point of failure sitting there all noisy and waiting to go wrong or be hit by the latest crypto-virus because you can now spread your system out across the web like a hero with the likes of Google, Microsoft, Dropbox and cloud server providers like 1and1. Let’s take a look at Google’s “Drive” offering.

First pricing:-


£1.59 per month sounds like a bargain for 100 GBs, £7.99 also great value for a whole TB. Access to the drive is via web browser, PC application (Google Drive Sync) or smartphone app. You can simply copy files to the cloud by dragging and dropping via Windows, or uploading through the web interface. The drive appears in your system through Explorer, or you can access via an icon in your system tray.


Once you have your files up there, you can share them with your team using the drive app or web interface.


Google Drive is by far the easiest of the file storage programs out there, but you need a google account and the sync isn’t the fastest — I would say Dropbox is the quickest (but there again it absolutely kills your PC due to the heavy processing requirements, even when not syncing). SpiderOak’s Group Hive is a good alternative but although it has zero-knowledge encryption it is very fiddly to set up. PCloud is more like Dropbox but it can exhibit file conflicts.


Download the Google Drive software using the cog icon in the web browser.

29 Sep


Counts the number of visitors of your blog and shows the traffic information on a widget. TSW shows the number of visitors / hits / unique IPs in the past 24 hours, 7 days and 30 days. It also shows the number of users currently online. It provides a robots filter, but the automatic traffic could also be considered. Traffic Stats Widget offers language support and automatic log deletion.


27 Sep



“360 Total” might sound like a toothpaste but it happens to be a damn good, free anti-virus, anit-malware solution that I have been using for several years. One of the great features is that it is low on system resources so it can be used on even the oldest and slowest PCs and laptops.

23 Sep


For the past few months, I have been in the process of moving over all my customers from cPanel email hosting to either Microsoft Exchange Online or Google Apps. I have read a lot on the web about people’s experiences of these technologies and the ones that choose Microsoft must be fully paid up, card carrying members of the Bill Gates Fan Club.

There is absolutely no way that any sane person would choose Exchange over Google Apps, once you’ve tried both…and I’ve used both these technologies for years. The simplicity and compatibility of Google, not to mention the awesome spam and virus controls, are incredible. I can only assume this comes from building a system from scratch later on in life as opposed to using an old technology like Exchange that was built over 20 years ago, when the name “Exchange” was actually the name of the mail client we used, before it was re-appropriated for the server product and the mail client was renamed to Outlook.


The DNS entries alone for Exchange give you a clue to the complexity you are going to be faced with in the months to come, let alone the service packs and updates required just to get Outlook working.

12 Sep


It’s obviously now a “thing” because the new batch of budget HP and Lenovo laptops all come with a hybrid UK/US keyboard, essentially a US keyboard but with the £ and @ swapped round into the UK configuration. That means it has a small Enter key and a large left hand Shift key, plus the backslash “\” is not next to the Z, but near the Alt Green.



9 Sep


A big thanks to Joseph Styons on StackOverFlow.com who suggested a way of creating tables in MySQL from within Access. Prior to this, I was  creating the tables manually!

You should be able to do this by setting up an ODBC data source pointed at MySQL, right-clicking on the Access table, and hitting “Export”.


5 Sep


If you get a stuck Parallel’s 2X Client, maybe because you are out of connections on the server, server is unreachable etc:-


then all you need to do is “Disconnect” the session from the Parallel’s console:-


You don’t have to go into Task Manager and end the session.

31 Aug


A very strange problem affecting one of my customers, any emails sent or forwarded from his standard POP3 email to his gmail account just never arrived. No bounce-back, no message saying why. When I created a new email and sent it to his gmail account, I got this:

SMTP error from remote mail server after RCPT TO:<xxxxxxxxxx@gmail.com>:
550 5.7.1 recipient is in suppression list “bounces”

I contacted the registrar and the hoster. Finally, I got this from the hoster:-

Hello Steve,

The gmail address was added on the suppression list of our outgoing spam filter. I have removed it and you should no longer have this king of problems. Please wait about 10-15 minutes and try again to sent an e-mail test.


Suppression list???!! 5 days of email problems, all because of a spam filter.


26 Aug


Start menu look a bit weird? Microsoft have just released the Anniversary Update for Windows 10 and things look a bit different. The Start Menu has been messed around…again, the Edge browser now has extensions, Cortana has been updated (but who cares), Action Center has a bit more granularity, and various other things. Terrible. Can’t you leave it alone, Microsoft? Who does your market research?


19 Aug


You may have a PHP webpage that checks username / password credentials to allow access to an0ther page on your website. The username / password you are checking against will be stored in the login check page, but that leaves you open to SQL Injection-type attacks, so with PHP 5.5 and above there is a neat PASSWORD_HASH function you can use to “hash” the password into a string (using encryption which cannot be easily reversed) so that if the hacker is able to view the page, the password will not be discovered.

All you then need in your login routine is to hash the password passed from the login page, then match it to the stored hash. If they match, then the user must have known the correct password. If he didn’t then the hash would be completely different. Depending on the encryption, he could sit there for 100 years trying to guess you password. Use the function PASSWORD_VERIFY to compare the two pieces of information, as this is more secure than a string compare. Some sample code:-

$pass = $_POST[‘pass’];
$hash = ‘$2y$10$uEMB1bBylNHZg8Aqz456m.NCvq6kImrXYbj0ov4Kpbf22OX3dem2u’;
if (password_verify($pass, $hash))
$_SESSION[‘authorized’] = true;
include ‘secret.php’;
$_SESSION[‘authorized’] = false;
// show error

You can easily create the password hash by using:-

echo password_hash(“whatever”)

19 Aug


A simple example of a SQL Injection-type attack on your system:

Suppose you have a webpage with a form that asks for username and password to access a second webpage. The first page might look like this:-

<input name=username>
<input name=password>
<input type=button value=submit>

The second page might then have some PHP code that checks against a password held in a database or simply held in the page itself:-




But if the hacker fills in the username of “Admin!–“, notice the last 3 characters  (!–) that would be entered into the POST string and the SQL statement would look like this:-


The rest of the SELECT statement isn’t run, so the hacker doesn’t need the password, he’ll have access as Admin (if there is such a user).

18 Aug


A few people have asked me to add some old-style feature phones with a built-in email client, so here they are:-

 Name Image Camera Standby Features Price
Nokia Asha 300  nokia_asha_300  5 MP  550 Hours Camera, Email, 3G, FM Radio, Bluetooth, more…  £44.90
Nokia Asha 301  nokia_asha_301  3.2 MP  936 Hours Camera, Email, FM Radio, 3G, Bluetooth  £51.00
Samsung S5611  Samsung S5611  5 MP  310 Hours Camera, Email, FM Radio, 3G, Bluetooth, more…  £79.89
14 Aug


Smartphones tend to need re-charging on a daily basis, so why not purchase a second phone for your hols, or to keep as a standby? These old-style feature phones have long battery life, basic camera and an FM radio. The higher up you go in price, the better the camera, sometimes including auto-focus, flash and other features.

For battery life, the Archos 24 Power is unbeatble with 55 days standby but the Nokia 130 is close with 864 hours (36 days) plus email functionality. If you can’t do without your Android or iPhone you could always turn off the 3G to make it last longer. 2G phones will generally have double the standby of 3G phones.

Some of these phones are becoming more difficult to find in 2016 but most of them are still being made. Look on eBay and choose “New” in the filters.

Note: None of the following phones have an email client.

 Name Image Camera Standby Features Price
 Alcatel 20.07 Alcatel 20.07 3 MP 375 Hours Camera, Email, 2G, Bluetooth £29.99
Nokia 130  Nokia130 864 Hours FM Radio, more… £24.20
Archos F24 Power  Archos F24  2 MP 1320 Hours (55 Days) Camera, FM Radio, 2G, Bluetooth £32.99
Kazam Life B7  Kazam Life B7  5 MP  470 Hours Camera, FM Radio, 3G, Bluetooth  £39.99
Nokia 225  Nokia 225  2 MP  864 Hours Camera, 2G, FM Radio, Bluetooth, more…  £44.99


11 Aug


This was a weird one. All the little system icons on the bottom left near the clock were missing, except one or two. If you moved the taskbar to the side or top of the screen they all came back, but moving it back down the bottom and all were gone again. I solved it by making the taskbar double size, the resizing back to single – all icons showing normally.

11 Aug


One of my customers was having an issue launching “Stickies”, a sticky-note program which is networked in their office to send notes to one another. Unfortunately, they had chosen “Block” when their Anti-Malware (the excellent 360 Total Security – NOTHING TO DO WITH THE TERRIBLE NORTON OF A SIMILAR NAME) had prompted them, so it was in the block list. I removed the item from the block list and all was well.

6 Aug


God only knows why Microsoft mucked it all about again, but the Start Menu is a complete dog’s dinner in Windows 10. Tiles? Are you having a laugh?

Should I Upgrade? 

Windows 10 is better for battery life on laptops and occasionally better on performance, so upgrading is sometimes desirable. On the other hand, Windows 7 will be supported for many years to come, 2020 at least, it has more driver support and you will eventually get Windows 10 when you buy a new PC anyway.

Whoops, I missed it!

You may have missed the free upgrade from Windows 7 or 8 but it is still available via the “Assistive Technologies” route (see previous article). You don’t need to prove you use assistive technologies so effectively it’s a backdoor open to all. Don’t forget, Microsoft wants you to upgrade to increase it’s attractiveness to new programs and programmers.

Sort it out, now! 

But, to get to grips with Windows 10 you will need to make some changes to the deeply unpopular “Metro” Start Menu. It only shows the 5 most recently used apps, it can’t find your favourite apps for love nor money, you can’t pin stuff to the left-most panel, you can’t get portable apps into the All Apps area, etc

  1. Get rid of all the ridiculous TILES using “Unpin from Start” (Fig. 1)
  2. RESIZE menu to normal width by clicking and dragging across
  3. Pin your favourite apps to the DESKTOP or TASKBAR – they are still functional like before
  4. Make other IMPORTANT ICONS visible on the panel (Fig. 2)
  5. Use RIGHT CLICK on the Start Button for Admin stuff (Fig. 3)


Fig. 1 Unpinning


Fig. 2 Add good stuff to the Start Menu left panel


Fig. 3 Use the hidden right-click for Admin functions

4 Aug


Nowadays, you can hook up your PC quite easily to your TV, especially if your £20 graphics card comes with an HDMI port like this one. This is a Radeon 5450 PCI-E (PCI Express) card.

The front side of a Sapphire Radeon HD 5450

What about audio? Well, that can also be sent through HDMI of course, so just set your “playback device” under Control Panel to the newly visible “Digital Audio HDMI” object.

hdmi audio

4 Aug


If you can’t connect to your iPhone 6 Hotspot and the password prompt is not displaying on the PC, just click on the “Network Settings” link in blue and this will take you to a popup that will then show you the password box. Fill in the wiFi password you set on your iPhone and the PC will now connect. This looks like a simple Windows 10 bug.


22 Jul

Hamachi Error

Error 52 on Windows 7: this should be solved by installing Windows Update KB3033929 and then reinstalling Hamachi. If the KB doesn’t apply, then try rebooting into Safe Mode (F8 on start up) and selecting “DISABLE DRIVER SIGNING”. Now you should be able to install no problem. You can permanently set to disable driver signing by using BCDEDIT:

bcdedit -set loadoptions DISABLE_INTEGRITY_CHECKS

bcdedit -set TESTSIGNING ON

11 Jul

Windows 10 rollback option is only available for 30 days

Yes, you heard that right! The option to rollback disappears and you are stuck with W10. The only option is to dig out your W7 CD or download a copy from pirateproxy and burn, then do a new install. Don’t worry about your files, as you install W7 you will be told that your old files will be saved in a folder called “C:\Windows.000” — if you don’t get that message…STOP!


1 Jul


If for some reason you have real trouble connecting to your server via RDP, you could be being attacked by a bot, constantly trying to break into your server and preventing you from connecting.

Take a look at your security log in Event Viewer to see what’s going on. If you see lots of audits saying Logon Failure then that’s probably what’s happening. Change your port from 3389 first, then if it still happens use Hamachi to create a VPN.  It’s the easiest way to hide your remote server from hackers.


28 Jun


I am now in receipt of a new batch of HP Elite 8300 i5-3470 3.20GHz desktops, with 4GB RAM and 500GB Hard Drive. They go great with the Iiyama ProLite 24 monitor and HP wireless keyboard and mouse.


Years of trouble-free computing are ahead of you with these fast, reliable, best-of-breed products. I haven’t had a single HP Elite or Iiyama go wrong and I’ve done almost a hundred of each over the past year.

23 Jun


If you are scared of being Crypto-Locked and held to ransom over your files, then please download and install CryptoPrevent by FoolishIT. It’s free and will stop you being infected if you, or someone on your computer, double-clicks a dodgy email with the virus attached.


Of course, you could get yourself a Gmail account and you wouldn’t get those nasty emails in the first place, but if you have standard email then a virus could get through.