Thursday, 24 December 2015

Digital Resolutions Security Housekeeping - Antivirus

Part 2 in the Digital Resolutions series.

Have you got an Antivirus running on your system?

If you have:

  • does it run on a schedule?
  • does it update regularly?
  • Is it out of Subscription?

There is no reason not to have a working antivirus installed on your PC.  There is a vast array of options when it comes to Anti-Virus and one of the best free versions is Avast.  It is currently the number one downloaded from  Avast has a "real-time" scanner,  This means that any file you access on your PC gets scanned at time of opening.  Not all of the free ones do this, but they have other features that maybe Avast does not. Some others have parental controls included and some have a firewall.

Avast Website

Other options include : BT offer within their subscription package, an Anti Virus for free, as do Sky, as do Virgin Media.

A google search for top 10 antivirus or top 10 free antivirus, will give you a raft of options and opinions.

Do make sure it is set up to run on schedule, a quick scan once a week and a full scan once a fortnight.  Ensure that it is able to update automatically, as newer threats will be added frequently.

It does not matter whether you pay for it or whether its a free version make sure it updates regularly and can be set to run on a schedule automatically and that the schedule is set to run when the system is running and not at 3.00am on a Wednesday morning when it is switched off.

Antivirus will only run when the PC is switched on!

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Digital Resolutions Security Housekeeping - Facebook Privacy Edition 1

Over the next couple of weeks I am going to be posting some New Year’s resolutions to help with the task of keeping your PC under control, keep it running well and to keep the virus and rubbish off your computers.  

Yes, I know most of the Security software companies are doing something or have done something similar.

So I am going to start off today with one that is quite important to me, but nevertheless a reminder for the time of year.

A while back I felt the need to post on Facebook the following:

When you are posting on Facebook, please give a thought to your own privacy settings.
I take my the privacy of my children seriously and I don’t want pictures of my children posted Publicly on Facebook and I know that many parents feels the same.

My own settings are locked to Friends only, because they are MY friends and I know them off Facebook, in the real world, and I trust them.

There are many tutorials on the Web and within Facebook itself that detail the steps needed to put this basic security in place.

Please respect the privacy of my children and that of ALL children – Don’t post pictures of children without the consent of the parent and make sure the post respects that consent and their privacy.

 It is likely that you will be taking photos over Christmas and New Year.  Think about it before you post them on your timeline.  Who is in the photo?  Ask permission to post pictures of other people’s kids on social media and when you do, make them available to friends only.  It is better to ask permission, than to piss people off!

Sunday, 15 November 2015

HMRC refund email

The Network Manager got an email this week supposedly from the HMRC.

It was one of those that look almost authentic.

It had the HMRC logo at the top and was notification of a tax refund.

The Network Manager is gainfully employed and pays his tax.  If there was a slight chance of a refund, it would not be in November and he is PAYE and therefore, rather unlikely to see it.
It also calls it a "refund" don't all us Brits call it something else!

It asks him to follow the link to give bank details so that the refund can be processed. 


Out of interest and for the purposes of research, he clicked on the link, but our ISP was already on it and had blocked the site.

So there is another one to add to the list.

  • Microsoft will NEVER telephone you, 
  • Your bank will not email you to verify your internet banking details while blocking your account,
  • HMRC will not email you to give you some money back!  As I understand it, they only write "proper" letters to people and send them via Royal Mail.

Thursday, 10 September 2015

Windows cannot automatically bind the ip stack to the network adapter ...part 2

In my last post I mentioned difficulties with getting back online after a Windows 10 upgrade
I have found the source for the solution

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Windows cannot automatically bind the IP protocol stack Windows 10 Update

Recently completed the Network Managers upgrade to Windows 10.

Dell Inspiron 1545.  It arrived with Windows 7 on it.  

The first time I upgraded it errored out, rebooted and restored Windows 7.  The reason for this was I had over estimated the battery power.  It is not as good as it used to be.  (insert Ronnie Corbett-esque anecdote about laptop batteries?...maybe another time)

I tried again with the laptop running on the mains power and it completed.

There was however, an issue with the Ethernet and Wi-Fi.

Due to the age of the laptop Dell do not provide updated drivers for Windows 10 so I reinstalled the Windows 7 drivers.  They apparently installed with no issue, but it was still not working and not making the connection to the internet.

I ran a diagnostic on the network connections and the result was:
"Windows cannot automatically bind the IP protocol stack to the network adapter"
The reason for this was, installed on the adapter configuration were some items that were not required.

Control Panel -->  Network and Sharing Centre --> Change adapter Settings --> Right Click on the adapter name and select Properties.  The window below will appear or something very much like it

The items that should be checked are:
  • Client for Microsoft Networks
  • File and Printer Sharing for Microsoft Networks
  • QoS Packet Scheduler
  • Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IPv4
  • Internet Protocol Version 6 (TCP/IPv6)
  • Link Layer Topology Discovery Mapper I/O Driver
  • Link Layer Topology Discovery Responder.
Uncheck anything else.

The culprit, it seems, on the Dell Inspiron, was Microsoft LLDP Protocol Driver.  It was checked. 

It was then unchecked and the adapter was disabled and then re-enabled and then it was finally able to connect to the internet.

There are other reasons that it may not work, one is an unsupported VPN application or connection.  I made sure that anything of this nature was removed from the laptop, but in this case it was the MS LLDP Protocol Driver.

Sadly, I cannot remember or find the site that this useful information came from and I do like to give credit where credit is due.  If I do find it I will add the link to the site as the discussion it came from did give other solutions if this was unsuccessful.

Other reasons could include :
  • the Ethernet cable may not be plugged in correctly
  • Firewall or AV software may need to be temporarily disabled.
  • Unsupported VPN software.


Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Windows 10 upgrade

So we were away on 29th July and I had to wait until 2nd August before I could even think about getting my grubby mitts into the Windows 10 upgrade.

The first in line for an upgrade was my faithful war horse PC.  This PC is the "Triggers Broom" of PCs.  It was first purchased in about 2000 and it had Millenium installed!  Pausing so you can wipe the tears of laughter from your eyes.

It has been upgraded through XP, Windows 7, and now to 10. (Skipped over Vista, 8 and 8.1) Over the years it has had, in no particular order, new HDD & SSD.  New Optical drive, I upgraded the Motherboard and processor at one point and I have also replaced the PSU added RAM... and a new case, but it has been with me all these years.

I am writing this blog on it and it is now working fine upgraded to Windows 10.  There is a bit of back story including me being a little impatient and not waiting for the official release and upgrading to the Insider Preview version.  This version upgraded ok, but did not like it when I tried to upgrade to the full version.  I was a victim of the "explorer and cortana is not responding" critical error.

I had to reinstall Windows 7 from scratch and then update to windows 10.  I will gloss over the fact that I have now got to install all my applications again, but sometimes that's a good thing. It was due a clean out anyway.  But that is my desktop, I accumulate applications for this and that and sometimes don't uninstall them.

My Laptop on the other hand, was a bit of a "surprise - I'm upgrading to 10"  Still not entirely sure how it started.  I really wanted the desktop working first, but my laptop decided that it had all the necessary and was going with Windows update and was going off to Windows 10 land whether I liked it or not.  I registered for the upgrade almost the second it came out so I have only myself to blame.

It is working fine.  There have been some ID 10T errors from the k2c interface, but these are slowly being resolved, as I find out new stuff.

There are other Systems here at Lamas HQ and some of my clients have asked me to "do" the upgrade for them.  I have one sitting here beside me at 18%.  This client is firmly in the Hate Windows 8 camp.  (Laptop with no touchscreen!)  She did not want to wait any longer to get rid of 8.1 and upgrade to 10.

All in all it is going well so far.  I have no wisdom to impart as I have not really had any issues, other than those of my own making, so far.  Or maybe just one.  Custom Installation or you will be furnishing Microsoft with all of your personal browsing habits and application info.  Double check all the toggle switches about sending this that and the other bits of info out to all and sundry.

There will be more on the Lamas Windows 10 journey in the future as there are more systems to go!

Monday, 6 July 2015

Windows update checking for updates and checking and checking

It was a little too hot in the garden on Saturday and I worked on a laptop.

This laptop had issues!

It starts up fine.  Then all of a sudden it just freezes.

On investigation I found that the Windows Update was not happening and when the update procedure runs it just goes on and on and on, without actually doing anything.  It takes all the available memory, therefore, causing the freeze.  To get it moving again the Service had to be stopped.

I tried resetting Update using this  from SevenForums I tried the 3rd option which initially made no difference

I ran disk clean up in Safe mode.  Which from the song and dance it did on reboot you would think it had cleared the problem.  There were 9.5GBs of Update files which it deleted.  When it rebooted it when through the whole windows configuring stuff.  Then it said Cleaning.  

Eventually it rebooted, but the update service was still stealing all the RAM.

I noticed that the AV was being weird as well so I uninstalled that.

I tried resetting Update again using the same 3rd option from the SevenForums site. Rebooting and changed the updates from automatic to manual, which did nothing really it just gave me a sense of control over the whole affair!

It sat there Checking for updates and the green whooshy thing going across for ages.  Then after quite a long while, a couple of hours, it showed that there were updates to be applied.  I applied the updates, which in itself was an occasion worthy of celebration!


It has settled down to just using half the available RAM.  So, Laptop Sorted!
I can reinstall the AV.

Friday, 19 June 2015

Raspberry Pi differences between the B and the Pi2

When I set up the Pi 2 (after much swearing and cursing and rainbow screens) I used OSMC and Kodi.  OSMC to the Pi 2 is the same as Raspbian to Pi B.  This, if you remember, took me some time to work out.   I confessed my shame in this post.

The Pi 2 initially did not really impress me as although it was supposed to be "better, stronger, faster" (or was that the 6 Million Dollar Man?) it stuttered and buffered and got annoying fast.  The time it took to search for stuff was longer than using the Pi B.  The processor was supposed to be faster and the memory was double.

If your read my earlier progress (or lack thereof) I was alerted to there being an alternate installation for the Pi 2 by the different installations of OpenElec. In this case OSMC, instead of Raspbian 

I decided that it might be worth a look at a different installation and OpenElec was the one that came to mind because of the above, not that I have to have a reason more than "ooh! shiny"

When I got it set up it seemed to work a bit better, less stuttering,  buffering and quicker to go and find what it was "waiting" for.

I skipped the B+ version.  So my experience is limited to the B and the Pi 2. There are countless comparisons for the B+ and Pi 2. 

I have also read that there will be a version of Windows 10 that will run on the Pi 2

So, as a recap :

Pi B
Pi 2
Works from an SD Card. Will work on microSD card with adaptor
Works from a MicroSD Card
Works on a 2GB SD card
Works on a 4GB minimum  microSDcard
Works on a 1.5A Power supply
Works on a minimum 2A Power supply
Requires correct installation ie Raspbian or correct download from selected OS
Requires correct installation ie OSMC or correct download from selected OS

Where as the upgrade path from the B+ is supposed to be straight forward, the B was not so much.  

It does seem to have settled down now and is working ok.

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Last Pass Password Manager

I have, on occasion, recommended LastPass as a password manager. 

I received an email this morning warning of an attack to their security.  They advise ...

"Dear LastPass User,
We wanted to alert you that, recently, our team discovered and immediately blocked suspicious activity on our network. No encrypted user vault data was taken, however other data, including email addresses and password reminders, was compromised.
 We are confident that the encryption algorithms we use will sufficiently protect our users. To further ensure your security, we are requiring verification by email when logging in from a new device or IP address, and will be prompting users to update their master passwords.
We apologize for the inconvenience, but ultimately we believe this will better protect LastPass users. Thank you for your understanding, and for using LastPass. "

You can read more about it on here.  It gets a bit technical in the middle but the advice is worth listening to.

So Off you go!  Get it changed. I'll wait.  

Even if you don't use LastPass it is good practice to change the master password for any password manager on a regular basis.  I was actually surprised (and rather mortified!) how long I had had my previous master password!

Password managers are a good idea.  If your passwords are done correctly, (ie random strings of numbers, letters and symbols), they are hard to remember and trying to remember the many random passwords that we need during any one day is enough to make you write them down!  In addition to that we have PIN codes for debit and credit cards and on top of this, building security codes.   

What happened to the days of just remembering your home phone number, that of your best mate and a reliable cab company!

If you don't fancy using LastPass there are many others out there. 

PC Mag article about password managers. (April 14)
TechRadar another article about password managers (Feb 15)

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Nexus 7 Lollipop slow or lagging

In a recent post I referred to a guide to optimising your Nexus 7 after the Lollipop upgrade.

The post has been updated to 5.1.1, moved off the forum it was on and on to its own page here.

I have found that on the kids Hudl, disabling some of the many sync options has speeded them up a bit.

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Random PC Crashes

The weather we are having at the moment is just Weird.  One day it is hot and the next I am looking for my jumper and thick socks.

In the good weather what we do need to watch is the temperature inside.  Computers and Laptops don't like being hot, they need to be kept well ventilated.  

If you are having a sudden epidemic of PC crashes, reboots and general nonsense it may be that you are having overheating issues.

Make sure all the fans inside desktops are working.
Ensure that the vents on your laptop are clear and that air is circulating freely. If it is tucked in an enclosure under a desk it may not have enough ventilation.

If you still have issues it may be that there is a build up of dust inside your PC which needs clearing out.

This is quite easy to do, but it is something Lamas Design and Technology can fix if you are not confident.

I opened a tower PC one day and found a large, dead spider along with dust, dog hairs and all manner of detritus. The reason it had arrived in the workshop was that it kept rebooting for no apparent reason.

Another Laptop (the Network Mananger's) was working so hard it sounded like a jet taking off.  When I opened it up I found this...

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

This copy of windows is not genuine - Oh yes it is!

A Client phoned me on Monday and told me that he was getting a Non Genuine Windows warning.

I knew that the copy of Windows was, in fact, genuine as I had purchased it, installed it and activated it myself just over 12 months ago!

The Network Manager was going over that way that evening and went and took a look at it.

I did not know at the time, as the client was not all that clear about it, but it was a random thing.  Sometimes it booted ok, other times it gave the warning.

The Network Manager found no issue and went on his merry way, the PC booted fine for him.

About an hour later I had a call to tell me that it is once again doing the same thing and giving a non genuine warning. 

I picked up the PC and brought it back to the workshop for further investigation.

I rebooted a couple of times, with no issue and the 4th time it happened again, a black screen with the warning in the bottom right of the screen.  It looked something, but not exactly, like this...

The back screen without the photo that is usually there, with the warning. When I did a quick bit of research on this i found that this is not an isolated incident and there have recently been quite a number of these.

It seems that something is corrupting the registry files associated with the licence.  If you check the MS website for their solution you may end up a little jittery as it involves a lot of manual registry editing. 

These pesky registry keys must be straightened out, however.  

The command required to do this is slmgr -rearm in an administrator level command prompt window.

This YouTube video is a good step by step instruction.

But if you are in any doubt about what you are doing consult a professional.  

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Nuisance Phone Calls

A while ago, fed up with the continuous marketing calls, hang ups and offers of dubious technical assistance  I had our phone company add caller display and silent call rejection to our account.

The rejection of silent calls has cut them down but a few still get to my land line.  In the space of about 40 minutes, earlier in the week, I received 3 calls, all hang ups when the answering machine started.  The words "the other person has cleared" is the norm on it these days!

I checked the numbers online.  Two of the calls appeared to be from a number used by the notorious Microsoft technical department.

Now, I am obviously a bit tech savvy and I have been known in the past to string these chaps along, just when they think they have scored I tell them in no uncertain terms that they should stop calling me.

This morning I was minding my own business when the phone rang.  I recognised the number from earlier in the week on the caller display.  On the spur of the moment I answered it with the phrase "Directory for which town please".

I have not used the directory enquiries service for quite some time as it is much easier to look it up on the web.  But I thought I would try using their greeting.

The heavily accented lady at the other end of the phone spoke and asked me how I was today.  My reply was the same "Directory for which town please".  I think I repeated it 3 times before she said "oh is this a business?"  I think I have the wrong number, sorry to disturb you and she hung up.

I have not had any further calls from that number today.

I will be interested to see what happens over the next week.

Remember these "technical" people posing as Microsoft Support are not really trying to help, they are attempting to relieve you of your cash while infecting your PC at the same time.

If you are in doubt run malwarebytes, superantispyware or/and any free anti virus software.  I can recommend Avast Free Anti-Virus.  Or call a local computer repair service.   I know a good one for the Essex area!!

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Online and paperless bills - Help or Hindrance?

Paperless bills are a common "convenience" 

It is that time of year for Car insurance renewal.

I think like a lot of people, we have put our car insurance in the "paperless" category, along with the utilities, council tax, phone, broadband etc.

We only get our documents printed if we do the work ourselves.

The Network Manager mentioned it yesterday in a fit of And Another Thing I have to Pay, so I looked for the documents and then found that last year, when the deed was done we had opted for online documentation, but he didn't sign in and print out the documents.  To be honest, when do you really need to produce them anymore?  Tax is done online. So there are no trips to the Post Office with all the relevant documentation in your hand.  It kind of slips your mind that these things are due.

I did the usual online comparison thing and found that the two cars could be insured for approx £310.

The current insurer would not give me a quote online as, after I had tediously put in our information, it suggested that I telephone customer service as it "believed we were already customers".  It would have been nice if they had come up with that little gem when I entered the vehicle registration numbers or email address and not after I have entered every scrap of data requested, for both cars and both drivers!

The same company has played the game with us before.  I was prepared for their usual tricks.  I went online to their documents portal and found our documents.  The "current" documentation is showing the not yet started until the end of the month documents.  I had to trawl three documents to find the important information - how much is this going to cost me.  
Total for the two cars and two drivers - £440. These documents have been on the documents portal for a couple of days. Why did they not issue a letter? Or, more fitting to the paperless ethos, an email to say something along the lines of "Its that time again, please find your renewal info online".  At least with the utilities you get a heads up when they ask for a meter reading.

To make matters worse, the quotes I got did not include the sizable excess that is on our policy, meaning that each time we claim we loose a couple of hundred quid of it.  Not  that we have made many claims, I have 19 years NCB and He has 16.  

I will be chatting to their customer services in the next couple of days.

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Nexus 7 and 5.1.1 update

Happy to report that the recent 5.1.1 update has not given my Nexus any adverse reaction.

However, I did remove the Book of Face app from it a while ago. That did change things!  I have even been able to reinstate the screen orientation.

I originally used this useful tutorial, which made a difference after the 5.0.2 update

Still playing with the technical preview of Windows 10.  Its not the fastest running it in Virtual Machine, but I like what I am seeing so far.  Network manager has just been given a windows phone - he has been an android convert for a while.  I am waiting for the cursing and stuff to begin when he starts using it on Monday.  (Almost reason enough to go out early out on Monday morning!)

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Remotely like another bit of Pi

We now have 2 x Raspberry Pi B and one new Raspberry Pi 2.

The 2 is set up in the lounge and one B is set up in the kitchen for the "chef".  So far, the 2 is ok, but I find it is slower than the B,  running Kodi.  There could be reasons for this. More research is needed. Another post for another day.

We have only one keyboard remote.

There are, however, android devices used at Lamas HQ.

To avoid having to attach a mouse, also, to avoid getting up from the chair, an app called Yatse works quite well.  It is a download from the Google Play store, which controls the Pi using the wireless network.  (There are probably some for Apple but I have no Apple devices portable or otherwise and don't get involved with Apple.)

It can also be useful when He gets all " my precious " over the remote controls.

It has to be running on the same wireless network and, if you have more than one Pi, you can also set up both devices on the same remote app and switch between them when necessary.

There is a set up wizard that makes it all easy to get it up and running and most of the information required, (IP address, webserver port) is found in the settings, system information on the Pi itself.

Monday, 23 March 2015

Web Searching and Private Parking Tickets.

A Google search, depending on the terms that are typed into the search box, can return many results or just a few.

We have to then make sure that the information provided is up to date.

Within the last 12 months I was lucky enough to receive a Parking Charge Notice, which is not to be confused with Penalty Charge Notice.

A Parking Charge Notice is issued by a Private parking company and Penalty Charge notice is issued by a traffic warden for the council or police.  They do, however, both look similar.

The car park concerned was not a council run site but a privately run site.  It was pay and display.  I had parked in the car park some time previously but no parking restrictions were in place, at that time. 

I parked up, like we all do, checked how much for how long and paid the tariff.  I paid little attention to the rest of the notice.  I returned to my car at about the right time, but for very good reason I was delayed actually leaving the car park.

Had I spent this time actually reading the extremely small print on the parking signs, I would have been aware that the car park was monitored by cameras. 

I Didn’t.

About a week later I received a notice that I owed a rather large sum of money to a private parking company.  In my opinion, my reasons for not leaving the car park were entirely justified and I decided to appeal the ticket.

My quest to find information about the appeal to this obviously started with a Google Search.  (Sorry, went a bit Ronnie Corbett there!)

The results from the search provided me with varying advice, including 
  • Pay up
  • ignore
  •  write a strongly worded appeal but don’t ignore

How did I know which information to follow?  

A Google search provides information based on advertising and how popular the site is.  I wanted to find the most up to date information about appealing a parking ticket.

Firstly, I changed the parameters of the search

Click on search tools and click on Any Time and select a period of time, Past 12 months, Past Month or even enter a custom range.  You can then sort by relevance of the information to the search term or you can sort by date.  You can also filter sites by country.

This will limit the results to the most recent information.  In the case of parking tickets issued before   2012 the advice, at the time, was to ignore them.  But this is no longer the case. 

I used a fantastic site that gave well informed advice and I was able to appeal the ticket and get it cancelled.

If you are interested, it was a MoneySavingExpert forum.  I do still drop in there from time to time, as the information and recommendations do change. Here’s a link to their “Newbies” information.

which is a good place to start should you ever be in the same position.

Blue Keep Bluekeep what is it?

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