27 Sep

360 TOTAL SECURITY

360_total

“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

EXCHANGE ONLINE OR GOOGLE APPS?

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.

exchms3

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

WHAT’S HAPPENED TO HP AND LENOVO LAPTOP KEYBOARDS?

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.

20160913_143238

9 Sep

OMG MOMENT – MS ACCESS TO MYSQL

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”.

http://stackoverflow.com/questions/442915/what-is-the-best-way-to-synchronize-data-between-ms-access-and-mysql

5 Sep

PARALLEL’S 2X CLIENT – STUCK WHILE LOADING

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

parallels_stuck

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

parallels_stuck2

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

31 Aug

EMAIL FORWARDING TO GMAIL – GOING NOWHERE

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.

Regards,
xxxxxxxxxx

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

 

26 Aug

WINDOWS 10 – ANNIVERSARY UPDATE

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?

AnniUp

19 Aug

PHP PASSWORD_HASH

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’;
}
else
{
$_SESSION[‘authorized’] = false;
// show error
}

You can easily create the password hash by using:-

echo password_hash(“whatever”)

19 Aug

SQL INJECTION

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:-

<?php


SELECT PERMS FROM SECURITY WHERE USERNAME = ‘”.$_POST[‘username’].”‘ AND PASSWORD='”.$_POST[‘password’] & “‘”

?>

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:-

SELECT PERMS FROM SECURITY WHERE USERNAME = ‘Admin”

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

HOLIDAY PHONES – WITH EMAIL CLIENT

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

HOLIDAY PHONES – WITH MASSIVE STANDBY


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 20.45X  Alcatel 20.45  0.3 MP  340 Hours  Camera, Email, FM Radio, 3G, Bluetooth  £23.79
 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

ICONS ON TASKBAR WON’T SHOW

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

A PROGRAM JUST WILL NOT LAUNCH

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

MAKE WINDOWS 10 LOOK LIKE 7…TILES BE GONE!

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)

1

Fig. 1 Unpinning

startmenu3

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

startmenu4

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

4 Aug

PICTURE AND SOUND THROUGH YOUR TV

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

IPHONE 6 HOTSPOT…BUT WINDOWS 10 NOT CONNECTING

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.

person-woman-hand-space

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!

w10

1 Jul

RDP NOT CONNECTING

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.

Hamachi

28 Jun

NEW BATCH OF HP ELITE 8300 (i5)

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.

hp8200

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

DON’T GET CRYPTO-LOCKED!

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.

brightnet.co.uk/cp.exe

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.

addtext_com_MTQ1ODAxNTE5OTU

21 Jun

OUTLOOK 0x800CCC13 ERROR WITH WINDOWS 10

This error is absolutely infuriating when sending email via Outlook in Windows 10, in my case with an old BT Connect account. The solution was to run a Command Prompt (Admin) from the right-click of the Start Menu, and then type “sfc /scannow” in the dos box.

outlook 800ccc13

Emails then started sending straight away, so god only knows what caused it but it seems to be fixed at last.

outlook 800ccc13 2

13 Jun

OUTLOOK – ARCHIVE AND PURGE

Outlook can get a bit unwieldy if you don’t look after it, a bit like that understairs cupboard. Every now and again you should archive and purge old emails so that it’s size reflects what your PC can adequately handle. Archiving just takes email over a certain age and dumps it into a separate archive folder, in the tree on the left for easy access. You can choose one folder or just do them all.

If you share your mailbox in a group, check with your Administrator before archiving. If you download your email from an IMAP folder (as opposed to POP3 or Exchange Connector) then don’t forget to PURGE to remove the emails from your online storage.

archive2    archive1

 

13 Jun

STAYING SAFE ONLINE – YOU ARE THE KEY

NEVER EVER be tempted to open a link in an email supposedly from your bank, even if it has your name or account number on it. Most of the scams I see are via email, because it’s an open system which requires no idenification to operate and even if it did, the scammers can fake it. Here’s an example of a link that has been opened from an email; looks genuine but notice the URL is not barclays.co.uk. Any information you enter is being logged by professional criminals with very little risk of being caught:-

barclaysscam

10 Jun

BACKBLAZE UNLIMITED PERSONAL BACKUP

How do they do it? Unlimited, uncomplicated personal backups for everyone – $5 per month. You don’t even have to choose what files to backup, it just does them all. If you don’t have a backup then try this one for free, on ALL your PCs and laptops at home. Business version available for your whole company  – $50.

https://www.backblaze.com/cloud-backup.html

10 Jun

CHEAP IPHONE? GO GIFFGAFF OR WAIT TILL THE NEW 7 COMES OUT

GiffGaff are offering the iPhone 5s 16GB in grey or silver for just £20 per month, which includes their £10 goodybag (1 GB, 500 Mins, Unlimited Texts). GiffGaff, like Tesco Mobile, is on the O2 network so it’s good coverage and far cheaper than O2 itself. Of course, the prices for older iPhones may go down when the new iPhone 7 is released in the UK soon, sometime in 2016.

giffgaff3

9 Jun

DKIM and DMARC

In  order to get through today’s spam filters it is highly recommended to set both your DKIM and DMARC settings, in addition to SPF and rDNS. DKIM just encrypts a little bit of info about where your email originated and tags it onto the email header. Any receiving system (and most are capable) will just decrypt the tag using the public key and verify it is who it says it is and allow the email through.

On MDaemon mail servers the feature is just a tick box under the Security menu for the receiving side. For the sending side, you create a public/private key pair and then add the public key as a TXT record in your domain name system. The DNS entries you need are:-

MDaemon._domainkey  v=DKIM1; p=FUHfNA0GCSwGSIb3DQEBAQ………….
_adsp._domainkey dkim=unknown
_domainkey  o=~
_dmarc v=DMARC1; p=none
9 Jun

SETTING REVERSE DNS ON A CLOUD SERVER

If you are using a cloud server to host your email then you will definitely need to set the reverse DNS record so that your emails don’t get filtered out as spam. On the 1and1 system there is a form to submit that will “assign” your domain name to your static IP:-

rdns1

Now you will see the assigned rDNS entry:-

rdns2

8 Jun

CANNOT ACCESS CERTAIN WEBSITES

If you are getting something like this when accessing certain websites, but your iPad or iPhone is getting to them no problem, then it might be an IPv6 problem.

ipv6prob

To find out, open a dos window and ping the website. You should see this:-

ping

Notice the IPv4 address (212.227.196.80) or whatever. It shouldn’t look like this:-

ping2

Notice the IPv6 address format (2001:8d8:1000…). If you do see that, go into Control Panel, Network and Sharing, Change adapter settings, right-click the connection, Properties and remove the ipv6 protocol.

7 Jun

HELP! MY PC JUST UPGRADED TO WINDOWS 10!

…and I didn’t ask for it! Gotchas like this are happening all over the place. Are you going mad?? No, it’s just that Microsoft are using slightly guerilla tactics to get Windows 10 installed on your PC/Laptop. If you get this…:

cancel-windows10-upgrade

…you have to click “Reschedule or cancel upgrade”, you know that link you can hardly see! Then you’ve got to click it again here:

Cancel-Upgrade-button

So you see, it’s very easy to cock this up and end up with Windows 10 without your consent.

7 Jun

WHICH PC/LAPTOP SHOULD I GET NEXT?

It can be difficult to decide on a big purchase like this, but there are a few hard and fast rules you should be aware of.

hp250g4

PC or Laptop? Laptops will give you more portabilty of course, but the keyboard and screen positions are fixed. You will need a separate keyboard/mouse/screen to enable you to move things around.

Gaming, Home or Business? Gaming PCs will have a dedicated graphics card for extra video speed. Business machines will be duller looking but are much the same as home machines.

hp8200

Processor? You would want a quad-core processor ideally and as much as you can afford. You can upgrade RAM, storage, USB devices but you can’t do anything with a poor processor, so make sure you pick a good one. Check your speed here: http://www.cpubenchmark.net/cpu_list.php 4000+ is good.

RAM? Between 4GB and 12GB for Windows 7 and 10. You can always upgrade later.

Storage? Anything over 500GB is great, you can always upgrade later.

Graphics? Dedicated graphics like NVIDIA or ATI would be useful for CAD, graphics, drawing, movie-editing, 3D apps.

Screen size? 24″ is now the norm for PCs, 15.6 for laptops. On laptops, you can go smaller if you want more battery life or bigger if you want to run specific apps like CAD.

iiyama Prolite E2483HS

SSD Hard Drive? You can always upgrade the hard drive in a PC or laptop from the standard HDD to SSD (flash drive) which will massively boost the boot-up time and general performance, and they are now at a price we can afford! You’ll probably need some help from an IT guy.

toshibaq300

Price? You can buy a laptop for less than £300 these days, but it will probably be a Intel Celeron or AMD A6 processor. You will find these very poor in terms of performance and everything will be lagging behind, to your eternal frustration. Intel don’t actually make Celerons, they are basically normal spec processors that have failed the test to be called an Core-i7 or what-not, but rather than chuck them away they are sold on as “budget” machines. Buyer beware!

All-in-One? The alternative way is to buy an all-in-one PC. They look great in your lounge but they are same as a laptop in terms of upgradability.

shopping

25 May

MIGRATE FROM HDD TO SSD WITH MINITOOL PARTITION WIZARD BOOTABLE CD

If users want to successfully migrate OS to SSD on laptop, both SSD and HDD had better be connected via SATA (if possible) or SSD is connected via SATA at least. For your situation (only one SATA interface available), please place the new target SSD inside the laptop and connected via SATA, and the old source hard drive is connected via USB enclosure. Then, use MiniTool Partition Wizard Bootable CD to migrate your system.

In the beginning, users need to boot their laptop from MiniTool Partition Wizard Bootable CD to get the following window.

main

24 May

HAMACHI – CREATE A LAN OVER THE INTERNET

You’ve probably heard of VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) — a way of creating an enclosed network over the Internet, but VPNs are horrible to set up and worse for users to work with. If only there was a zero-configuration, Virtual Private Tunnelling solution for free…Well there is! Hamachi requires you to create an account, create a Network, create Client(s) and then it is easy to deploy, to create a private LAN sitting across the Internet…and free for 5 users. Anyone can join in with the VPN easily and then all your colleagues appear to be local, so you could access files from a server or print to an office printer, even though you are somewhere else completely.