Archive for the ‘ PC Tech ’ Category
I’ve been involved with technology for quite some time. It all began due to my interest in old Sci-Fi movies on the Telly. Not to mention Doctor Who, Star Trek, Space 1999 (remember that one?). I also latched onto astronomy and physics sites as they became available on the Internet. I’ve worked with computers for quite some time, predominately in graphics design, and more recently, data center and server farm design and setup. I own desktop PCs, servers, laptops, smart phones, storage arrays…. You get the picture.
Now it’s confession time. I do not own, nor, until recently, have I ever seen a reason to own, a tablet PC. I can hear the gasps and cries of “Heretic!!”. I’ve always been from the school of buying equipment that was designed to be upgradable. You need a larger hard drive? Buy a larger one and replace the drive. Perhaps get rid of the hard drive altogether and install a Solid State Drive, like I’ve done with my laptops. Same thing holds for faster CPU’s, more memory, higher resolution displays; the list goes on. However, none of that is possible with a tablet. What you buy is what you will have until you decide to replace the entire unit. And when they were introduce, tablets were rather on the expensive side for something I would want to replace six months later.
All that being said, I am starting to come around, mainly because competition has increased the choices available and prices have tumbled to a fraction of what they were s few years ago. So, I am thinking it may be time to pick one up. I so have a Kindle Reader which I use while flying. Perhaps a good way to start would be to upgrade to a Kindle Fire. I’ll keep you posted on my experience.
Comments? What are your recommendations?
Let me know!
Love you all, Poppy xxxxx
The evil-doers who write/generate computer viruses and malware have been busy little peckers. Yes, indeed. It is becoming a worrisome task every day to stay ahead of them, or at best, right on their ass. People are under the impression that if you stay away from sleazy porno sites, you’ll be safe. As an aside, yes, there are such things sleazy porno sites and non-sleazy sites. But let’s leave that for another article!
These days you are just as likely to be the victim of a cyber-attack from accessing a mainstream media outlet, a museum site or a well-known charitable site. Instead of setting up dodgy sites of their own to lure in unsuspecting surfers, these creeps are targeting wholesome, trusted outlets via technical and social hacking, compromising the site with hidden code, then sitting back and waiting for the surfers to come knocking.
How can you defend yourself against all this? In truth, sometimes you can’t. But there are ways to minimize your risk. Most importantly, keep your anti-virus software up to date. Make sure whichever anti-virus application you have is configured to automatically download and install updates. Updates are pushed out daily and sometimes multiple times a day by the vendor. Don’t fall behind because the bad guys aren’t sitting back with their feet up on the desk!
If it isn’t on already, turn on your firewall. While it is not good practice to run more than one firewall on your PC, you should definitely have either Windows firewall active or a third party firewall installed. Then, make sure your router’s firewall is up and running as well. This provides an extra measure of protection you should not be without. If you have an older router that does not have a firewall, it is most definitely time to get a new one.
Now we come to the most critical part of the mix. The one thing that poses the most danger to your system is, quite bluntly, you. Getting an occasional evil thingy on your system will, in all likelihood, happen. But if you’re constantly getting infected time after time, and you are diligently cleaning out the infections you do get, then you’re doing something wrong. Have you ever had a box pop up that claimed a virus had been detected on your PC and to click on some button to fix it? But you don’t remember ever downloading and installing anything sounding like who they claim to be? That’s because you haven’t! It is a complete scam known as Scareware which tricks you into downloading and installing malware. If you click anywhere in the box, it will, with your now freely given permission, install software that will hijack your internet home page, block you from accessing legitimate sites that can help you, steal information and more. They will then demand you send them $49.99 to remove the crap THEY installed in the first place! Best bet if one of those appears? Save your work and re-boot your PC. If it comes back, disconnect from the internet, boot into safe mode and run a full virus scan.
In almost 100% of the cases, viruses and malware did not go looking for your PC on the internet and waged an attack against your defenses. You, my lamb, invited them in. Either you downloaded an application that sounded too good to be true (Get our $499.99 application free for the next 15 minutes!), or from a third party site no one has ever heard of or you clicked on a link in an unsolicited email. If an email arrives from someone you don’t know, or from a company with whom you’ve never done business, or from an official sounding quasi-governmental outfit and the English grammar would make a 3rd grader cringe, delete them. Don’t bother reading them; not that reading them poses any real risk, but you may be tempted to actually click on something in the email and THAT is where you will get into trouble.it
In the event you do get a virus or a malware app, don’t panic! I’ll be the first to say that no one package will provide you complete protection nor is any one package likely to remove all things under the sun. Things will slip though. You need what we geeks refer to as a ‘toolkit’. After all, you wouldn’t think of trying to fix your car armed with only a screwdriver. There is an fantastic application to detect and remove Adware and Malware called Malwarebytes. It has a free downloadable version that you have to run manually as it does not allow continuous background or scheduled runs without purchasing the fully configurable version for $24.95; a onetime charge entitling you to free lifetime upgrades. You can find both the free and the Pro package at the Malwarebytes page.
An unfortunate reality is that you may be forced to either restore from your most recent backup (Please tell me you have one!) or if you don’t have a backup, a complete reformat and fresh installation of your system and all of your applications.
If you do a little research you will find other packages that help protect you and clean up the mess left by evil snippets of dirty code. But in the end, you best protection is being aware they are out there and do not invite them in! Let me know if you have any questions. I’ll be more than happy to help.
Till next time,
Love, Poppy xxxxx
‘Women in It’ is a subject near and dear to my heart as Information Technology is my chosen profession and I am most definitely a woman. One thing I have noticed that has been in the press recently is the totally unbalanced ratio of men and women in scientific and technical fields. Why is this? Don’t lambaste me with the old adage of how men are better than women at spatial concepts and mathematics. While there are, indeed, scientific and technical jobs that involve heavy use of mathematics, Information Technology isn’t really one of them one of them. Granted, people designing new hardware use mathematics and such, the vast majority of people in the field simply do not. So why aren’t there more women in IT?
The answer is probably staring us in the face. Think about it. Computer peeps are regarded as geeks, hackers and nerds. We have the reputation, thanks mostly to Hollywood, of being anti-social loners who live in their mother’s basement and have no interest in their appearance. Young girls are strongly discouraged from any activity or behaviour that could lead to being tagged with any one of those labels.
Believe me, I know. I felt the pressure during my early teen years to conform to what society saw as the well defined roles for males and females. Fuck that. I took my first computer apart and reassembled it when I was 12 years old because I simply HAD to know how it worked. And yes, it still worked when I was done. I played video games, wrote scripts and software programs for my own use, explored the then up-and-coming world of UNIX and built my own systems. But that wasn’t all I was. I was then and am now a very sexual person. I hit puberty when I was 9 and I’ve been masturbating for as long as I can remember. I gave my first blowjob at 13, first swallowed at 14 and lost my virginity on my 15th birthday. My first girl-girl experience was at 17. I loved sex then and I love sex now. I worked as a bartender in a nude club in The Netherlands where I also danced nude on the bar. I have done nude modeling and even a few porn videos. I still do nude photos, some of which are on this site with lots more on my Twitter site (forgive my little bit of shameless promotion, but you can click that blue button over on the right hand sidebar and see for yourself).
My point in relating all this? There does not exist a situation where a woman with intellect cannot also be beautiful, sexual and feminine. And the reverse is certainly true. Yet Hollywood, even in 2013, portrays pretty woman as mental morons and intellectual women as plain and drab. Or worse yet, the intellectual woman is plain and drab until some friend convinces her to take off her glasses, fix her hair and buy new clothes and she is then stunning, but she will, inevitably, go out and do something extremely stupid, usually involving a man. Then we have the Hollywood image of the beautiful, sexual, intellectual woman; the evil mastermind, the evil martial arts expert, the home-wrecker… It is with few exceptions that teenagers of both sexes have it drilled into them that girls can be pretty or smart, but not both. And if they happen to be both, they had better hide the fact they have brains lest the be labelled a geek, a nerd or worse.
I do see some streaks of light breaking through the darkness. There are shows on the Science Channel and the Discovery channel that show attractive, educated, intellectual women scientists in roles integral to the show, not just fluff support roles. Women like Dr. Lucianne Walkowicz and Dr. Amy Mainzer.. I would love to have an intellectual discussion with either one of them for hours on end, or have sex with them. Having the discussion and sex would be ideal!
We need more women interested in the sciences and technology. We need to educate our children that they can be smart, sexy and beautiful. Because they got an “A” in Physics doesn’t mean they won’t have a date on Saturday night. I’m proof of that! We also need to educate the corporations of the world to pay equal money for equal work and ability irregardless of gender. We need more positive role models in the cinema, television and all other entertainment businesses. Their future, our future, in fact the very survival of the human race is at stake. Let’s not mess this up due to some backwoods, Luddite belief that it cannot be done simply because it has never been done.
Arthur C. Clarke, one of my favourite authors, is well known throughout literary and cinemagraphic circles. While Isaac Asimov is well known for his Three Laws Of Robotics, Clarke wrote his very three laws; not of robotics, but of scientific prediction. His three laws are:
- When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.
- The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.
- Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
I defy anyone to argue with or find fault with these three laws. The one that I’m invoking today is Law #3 as it pertains to the mystical universe of computers.
Most PC owners are not computer savvy technical people. They lawyers, doctors, small business owners, writers, actors, porn stars. They come from all walks of life. By this time, you’re probably thinking “Get to the fucking point!” so here goes.
We’ve all experienced those times when our PCs started to behave erratically; slowing down, taking longer than usual to complete a simple command, waiting a long time for an app to open… Right away, if you check on the forums or boards, you’ll get the Infection Army screaming at you “VIRUS!!! MALWARE!!! ZOMBIE!!!” and so on. Like you did it on purpose.
You may have called a computer service company who will readily wipe your hard drive and re-install the operating system for a substantial fee. Here’s Part 1 of the secret: most times it isn’t necessary. How’s that?
Poorly written applications, especially those written for an earlier version of the Operating System, do not use the system efficiently and can leave parts of themselves around after you think you closed them, eating up memory, disk space and CPU cycles. This is particularly true of some of the freebie apps you found while surfing the web, although there are commercially sold applications that are just as guilty.
Go through your installed applications with a critical eye. Uninstall those you don’t use on regular basis. If you haven’t opened an application for the better part of a year, chances are you don’t need it there. I’m also willing to wager that when it was installed, it configured itself to preload pieces of itself every time you start the PC. When cleaning up your system, keep in mind an industry standard rule about never, never, ever use more than 75% of your disc’s capacity. If you’re approaching this point, buy an additional drive (internal or an external USB drive) to store documents, movies, photos, etc.
Now for the second part of our dirty little secret. If a PC is left running for many days, it is not that unusual for it to develop behavioural issues. I find this particularly true if I have used any of the Adobe Creative Suite applications. Real memory hogs, they are. After checking for dodgy applications on problem PCs and checking that the inside of the case isn’t full of dust, the very next thing techs will do is to power down the PC, wait a few minutes and then power it back up. A vast majority of the time, the result is Mission Accomplished! Problem Solved! We then advise the person tha they should reboot their PC after using intense graphics applications or advanced numerical analysis applications. Even if you don’t use apps like these, it is good practice to restart your PC after 4 or 5 days of constant use.
So there you have it. The old canard of rebooting has a basis in reality. The first thing HP tech trainees learn is after checking the system logs and the like for hardware failure, reboot the device to see if the problem goes away. If it’s good enough for HP, it’s good enough for you and me!
Till next time, have a Happy New Year!
Help me! I Lost My Firefox Favorites!
Hi! Seems like the world didn’t come to an end after all, so it’s back to work for poor little me! Into each life and all that. Anyway, a reader sent me question that no doubt applies to many peeps out there, so it’s worth putting up here and giving the best answer I can. Here goes:
Poppy: I created a new user, opened Firefox, and there are only the default bookmarks. There is an “import” function, but it only offers to import Internet Explorer bookmarks. Is there any way to copy/import between users on the same machine?.
If you created a new user, Windows created a brand new user profile to go along with it. Firefox links to these profiles so that when you log in to Windows and run Firefox, it can load the preferences that were set up by that user and that includes bookmarks, aka, favorites.
To get your missing bookmarks back, do the following:
Open up Windows Explorer and type %APPDATA%\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles\ in the address bar and press Enter. A list of profiles will appear at the top of the Start menu. If you have multiple accounts, you will have multiple profiles, and they do not use the account names to identify themselves. It will look something like ‘c4aqz7b’. The account you’re logged in with will have a ‘default’ extension, so you don’t need to look there. Check through the others one by one until you find the bookmarks you want. In fact, this approach works for any customization you’re looking to recover, and me being the sweet git I am, I’ve included a list of all the goodies and the folders/files in which they lurk.
Once you find the missing data you need, simply copy the file from the old profile to the same place in the new profile, restart Firefox and then Bob’s yer uncle! (That’s a Brit thing… Google it…)
What information is stored in my profile?
Bookmarks and Browsing History: The places.sqlite file contains all your Firefox bookmarks and the list of all the websites you’ve visited.
Passwords: Your passwords are stored in the key3.db and signons.sqlite files. Remember, delete and change saved passwords in Firefox if you’re not going to use them anymore. Just to be safe.
Site-specific preferences: The permissions.sqlite and content-prefs.sqlite files store many of your Firefox permissions (e.g which sites are allowed to display popups) or zoom levels that are set on a site-by-site basis.
Search engines: The search.sqlite file and searchplugins folder store the search engines that are available in the Firefox Search bar.
Personal dictionary: The persdict.dat file stores any custom words you have added to Firefox’s dictionary.
Autocomplete history: The formhistory.sqlite file remembers what you have searched for in the Firefox search bar and what information you’ve entered into forms on websites. The downloads.sqlite file remembers what you have downloaded.
Cookies: A cookie is a bit of information stored on your computer by a website you’ve visited. Usually this is something like your site preferences or login status. Cookies are all stored in the cookies.sqlite file.
DOM storage: DOM Storage is designed to provide a larger, more secure, and easier-to-use alternative to storing information in cookies. Information is stored in the webappsstore.sqlite file for websites and in the chromeappsstore.sqlite for about:* pages.
Security certificate settings: The cert8.db file stores all your security certificate settings and any SSL certificates you have imported into Firefox.
Security device settings: The secmod.db file is the security module database.
Download actions: The mimeTypes.rdf file stores your preferences that tell Firefox what to do when it comes across a particular type of file. For example, these are the settings that tell Firefox to open a PDF file with Acrobat Reader when you click on it.
Plugin MIME type: The pluginreg.dat file stores Internet media types related to your installed plugins.
Stored session: The sessionstore.js file stores the currently open tabs and windows.
Toolbar customization: The localstore.rdf file stores toolbar and window size/position settings.
User styles: If they exist ( they are no longer used in the latest version of Firefox), the \chrome\userChrome.css and \chrome\userContent.css files store user-defined changes to either how Firefox looks, or how certain websites or HTML elements look or act.
Well, there you have it… It’s really not all that complicated after you’ve done it once or twice. You may want to copy or print this post as it will come in handy!
It’s now time for The Boyfriend and me to open a bottle of wine, get completely naked and cuddle on the rug in front of the fire… Of course, if I have anything to say about, it cuddling will just be the start!
Love ya all, guys and gals@!
Hey, guys. Time for a rant about Video Autoplay. To me, it is the height of fucking arrogance for a website to start playing a video as soon as I enter the site. I am a big girl (36DD!) and I am fully competent to click on the ‘Play’ button if, and ONLY if, I want to watch the video. I usually have music playing while I’m surfing and I freak when the audio track of a video I do not want to watch starts playing on top of my tunes. Other times, I’m poking around the Internet late at night and the sudden blaring of the audio portion is not welcome at 2am! If I want to wake up The Boyfriend, I’d rather do it by giving him a blowjob as he is far less cranky when he awakes with his dick in my mouth.
You may be able to tell by this point that I am fairly opinionated on this topic. I get completely incensed when the video in question is not part of the website content, but is nothing but a fucking advert! That is nothing less than cheap, crass and insulting. I think most of us can agree that this whole situation is beyond annoying but the question remains is what can be done about it. The answer? As far as I can tell, not a hell of a lot without severely hampering your browsing experience at the same time.
I’m using Firefox in discussing what can be done mainly because it is my primary browser. Firefox used to have an extension that would disable all autoplays, but the author stopped development on it more than a year ago so it does not work on the last several versions of Firefox and as a result, it is no longer available for download on the Mozilla website. Mozilla does offer two add-ons called “Stop YouTube Autoplay 1.0″ and “YouTube Autoplay Stopper 1.0.7″ that will disable autoplay of YouTube videos, but that doesn’t go far enough as the autoplay practice is rife throughout the Internet. I have run into it on websites belonging to CBS, ABC, CNN, Anorak and so on. Mozilla also has an add-on called “Flashblock 126.96.36.199″ that disables all Macromedia based videos, but once again, not all embedded videos are Macromedia based.
I’m sure there are similar tools for the other popular browsers; I simply haven’t looked into it. If anyone knows of them, let me know and I’ll update the blog, giving you full credit, of course! Also let me know your thoughts about Autoplay and if you hate it as much as I do!
Love to all. Poppy
Good news, I hope! Firefox 15.0 is soon to be released which addresses, amongst other things, ‘Add-on’ memory leaks. For the first time, closing a tab that uses Add-ons will release the memory allocated for use by said Add-on. This may not sound like a big deal, but trust me; it is! Previously, the allocated memory would remain allocated although unused and unusable by anything else until you completely exited from Firefox. This unused allocated memory is referred to internally by Firefox developers as ‘zombie compartments’.
As long as we’re talking about Firefox, you may or may not have noticed a recent (June-ish?) problem whereby Firefox, in a random fashion, does not recognize hyperlinks rendering them impossible to click on and visit the website. Related to this problem is that Firefox may not allow you click on the address bar and enter a URL. This has been (unofficially) traced to an incompatibility with the latest version of the Yahoo! toolbar. If you are experiencing this type of behaviour, disable the Yahoo! toolbar and see if it corrects the issue. If not, restart Firefox with all Add-ons disabled. If the problem goes away, try activating the Add-ons on at a time and when the problem comes back, the last one you enabled is the likely culprit. Chances are if the Yahoo! toolbar isn’t responsible, the Babylon Add-on you installed is.
One last note, Firefox 15 for Android has also been released but as a Betas. It contains known bugs (as well as unknown ones!) and is billed as ‘For Testing Purposes Only’. You have been warned! Use at your own risk as your mileage may vary…
Keep yer nipples hard!
Love ya all, Poppy xxxxxx
There’s a hidden tool included with Windows 7 that I’m glad to have found out about as well as a little embarrassed I didn’t already know about it! It’s called the Snipping Tool and it quite easily lets you capture any part of your screen an save it in a choice of formats. When I have had to do this in the past, I used either a program like Snagit, or I would do the Alt-PrintScreen thingy and paste into an image editing tool like Paint. Then I would crop the picture to what I want before saving it.
Using Snipping, you’re cropping the pic before copying it as all you need do is click and drag your mouse to form a box around the part you want. You can then save the results, add highlights to it or send it to the clipboard. Easy-peasy. You can even choose to draw a box free-form or select the entire screen.
How do you find this nifty little app? The easiest way is to click on your Start button and type ‘snipping’ into the ‘Search Programs and Files’ box. When ‘Snipping Tool’ appears in the top of the box, right click it and select ‘Send to Desktop’. Done.
It is said that a picture is worth a 1000 words, and now they’re easier to get than ever!
Till next time, Happy Snipping!
Love, Poppy xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
For a long while, the television viewing public had been inundated by those annoying, moronic and an insult-to-one’s-intelligence adverts for miracle software applications like ‘DoubleMySpeed.com’. I wrote ‘had’ in the opening sentence because I have noted a decided reduction in the frequency of those adverts. They’re still around, just not as often, thank heavens. There is a reason for it. The company that wrote and sells ‘DoubleMySpeed’, CyberDefender, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in United Sates Federal Court on February 23, 2012, citing $5.7 Million in assets against $42.5 Million in debts.
In my opinion, it couldn’t happen to a nicer company. From what friends and co-workers have told me, they are consummate hard-sell artists. You down load their ‘free’ software, it scans your PC, finds thousands of ‘errors’ and tells you you have to buy their $59 product to ‘fix’ all the issues it found. Their ‘free’ app will not clean anything, it only reports on what it purported to find. Now here’s the kicker. In many cases, the $59 product will fail to fix a ‘serious’ problem and tells you to contact Technical Support so they can advise you on how tho fix your problem. They will tell you you need to purchase a support contract which ranges from $234 to over $400, depending, I guess, on how easy a pigeon you are. Suppose you tell them to ‘Fuck Off!’ like I would. you’re left with a compromised PC with what can only be described as malware that runs slower than molasses in January.
So you try to uninstall the piece of offal. Sorry… It won’t uninstall. And o yeah… Along the way it installed a toolbar with out your permission too! If you know your way around a PC, you can use the brute force method of booting into Safe Mode, delete the directories in which it installed itself, run CCLeaner to purge the Registry and MalWareBytes to clean up anything left over. But guess what? Even if you didn’t fall for the $59 scam, you can’t uninstall the ‘free’ version either! Those couldn’t cope with the manual removal method and didn’t know somebody like me most times ended up reformatting their hard drive and installing the O/S from scratch.
Here’s something else you may find interesting. All those television adverts from ‘MaxMySpeed.com’, ‘DoubleMySpeed.com’ and ‘MyCleanPC.com’ competing for your money? They are ALL owned by CyberDefender! So no matter which one you chose, you’re fucked!
But they’ve filed for bankruptcy and the frequency of the commercials has slowed to a trickle so everything is right with the world. Uh-uh. CyberDefender as part of their re-organization, has sold the company, lock, stock and barrel to Guthy-Renker Corp which just happens to be one of the world’s largest producer of.. Wait for it…. INFOMERCIALS!!! You thought the adverts were annoying before; just wait. You ain’t seen nuttin’ yet!
Love ya all!
We’ve all suffered through the frustrating moment when you download a media file, try to play it and all you get is the audio with no video. Most times you don’t get an error code, just a blank screen. The problem? You’re missing some obscure CODEC which is required to ‘decode’ the video stream and allow your player to display it. Other manifestations of a missing or out-dated CODEC are extreme pixelation and distorted images. I’ve also seen where the video plays, but is upside down. But now comes the hard part. Which one of the hundreds of available CODECS are you missing? Is the website you’ve never heard of a reliable source? Will you end up with hundreds of CODECS you don’t need because you had to download a CODEC bundle to get the one you want? Good luck. It is hard enough to figure exactly which CODEC you need, but that effort is further complicated by figuring out which version of the CODEC will work in your particular situation.
Personally, I do not like the idea of downloading unknown, possibly virus-laden, code from dodgy websites. Not to mention possibly ending up with with hundreds of these little add-ons on my hard drive. One more thing of which you need to be aware: It is entirely possible that a CODEC doesn’t even exist that would enable that must-see video to be viewed by your media player of choice. Thankfully, there are a couple of approaches to this dilemma. You could download media player after media player (and there are dozens of them) in an effort to find the one that can play your media file natively, but who wants to end up with five or six media players and then keep it all sorted as to which one plays what.
You could go the CODEC route, but in the past, I’ve downloaded CODECS that did much, much more harm than good. But it’s your choice. If you want what is the most reliable and well known CODEC pack, download and install K-Lite. It comes in several different sizes from basic to mega and also has a 64bit pack.
Perhaps I can change your mind about media players. While there are several excellent free players available for download, I and others have had the best experience with an open-source player from VideoLAN called VLC. Personally, I have yet to find a media format that it can’t handle right out of the gate. It installs quickly, is not a resource hog, and is 100% free, including all updates. It is highly customizable including hundreds of different skins and documentation on how to create your own.
It is available for Windows, MAC and many different flavours of UNIX and LINUX. The user forums on the VideoLAN site also provide a massive amount of help for any issues you may encounter and since it is open-source, VideoLAN makes the source code available for download for you adventurous sorts who enjoy finding out how things work and possibly improve on them yourself.
When all is said and done, it simply appeals to me to not have half a dozen different media players and hundreds of CODECS on my system.
Let me know which approach appeals to you and why, because now you can go back and watch your downloaded copies of the Kim Kardashian and the Paris Hilton sex tapes! Till next time…
Love ya, Poppy