Thursday, 24 November 2016

Top Antivirus and Security

I get asked a lot by friends and clients what Anti Virus application should they use.  I have a preference - one that works!

I read an article recently in PC Pro Magazine which tested the different AV packages.

The top 2 were Kaspersky and Avast.

Kaspersky is a subscription. Avast is available for free.

Yesterday I was asked the question about AVs by a friend, whose subscription was due for renewal in January at a cost of GBP80.00. She decided that it was more cost effective to change to different package!

I checked on the current prices for her.

Argos are currently the cheapest for Kaspersky,

The other option I mention to anyone who enquires is a lot of the ISPs include a security package.  Virgin Media offer F-Secure, BT and Sky offer a security package powered by McAfee,

PC Pro also offer trial subscriptions in their magazine to some of the Security packages for 3 or 6 months,  These are sometimes useful if you are unsure whether a certain security solution will work for you, without making a financial commitment.  I have tried some of the options and found that they were good, but were not what I was looking for.

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Windows 10 Running Slowly and showing errors

A couple of systems recently have landed on the workbench at Lamas HQ, that were recently upgraded to Windows 10 that were just not working right.  No amount of fiddling and fixing made any difference. Each time something was fixed something else showed up

Common to all of the laptops were sudden, extended and repeated hangs.  There was nothing showing up on Anti Virus, Anti Spyware, Rootkit or hardware tests.  They had all developed this issue since the upgrade to Windows 10.

I tried updating all the drivers, checking for OS updates and also running the Tweaking application. The Event View was littered with all kinds of events, errors and warnings, but nothing specific enough to give a clear picture of what the issue was exactly.

The only answer I could find to this irritating issue is a Reset.

From the Settings Menu

A full reinstall of the operating system but it keeps your documents, photos & files, although making sure you have some kind of backup is always a good precaution, but it does get rid of applications and those will need to be reinstalled.

Using Reset This PC with the Keep My Files option does not keep any desktop applications that were installed.  For example, MS Office, Chrome and iTunes would need to be reinstalled, as will your security software and printer.  The reasoning behind this is that it could be one of these applications that caused the issue in the first place.  However, once the reset is finished you will find an icon on your desktop that lists all the applications that were not reinstalled, so that you can make the decision whether you need to reinstall them.

There are many tutorials "how to use Reset for Windows 10". So there isn't one here! highlight the words in quotes, copy and paste into your web browser!

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Lamas Web Design

The Blog has been quiet recently but that is because Lamas Design is branching out.  

Adding Web development to the list of services.

That is development, not necessarily design.  I may have an Art O’level and be able to draw decent enough stick men, but that is about it.

It’s all about the coding.    And the learning at the moment.

In fact this weekend I learned that Bootstrap (that’s the thing that makes a website look pretty on a full size monitor and then makes it look just as good on a mobile) even though they have Bootstrap 4 out in Alpha, it does not always do the job right or in my case - at all.  

So I am better off sticking with 3.thing.whatever it is for the time being.  

This little exercise of learning took me an hour and a half of head scratching.  Also this weekend I learned (again the hard way) that when using Bootstrap 3.thing.whatever, it only works when you type in the correct name for the classes.  There is a difference between cm-sm-12 and col-sm-12 in that the one starting cm does not exist!

Another lesson, learned over the course of the last couple of weeks is that <form> and <from> are not interchangeable and I need to (a) learn to type and (b) learn to spell.

And I am reworking the Lamas Design website to incorporate the development side of things.  When I say rework I may have understated it a little.  The website is currently sitting on the 1&1 web hosting server designed with the 1&1 templates. Well not for much longer.  I will be putting up a new site soon.  All my own work coded by my own fair hands.  

Windows 10 Parental Controls now called Family Safety

The final PC was upgraded to Windows 10 a couple of weeks ago.  Initially I wanted to have just one PC on Windows 7 to help with troubleshooting, but Windows 10 seems to be ok with this now.

I changed the existing Hard Drive to a an SSD first.  This procedure went smoothly.  There was a small problem with boot on the new drive but that was not unexpected and was quickly resolved.

Once I knew that this was working properly, I set the update to run.  It did this a lot quicker that the rest because it has the most powerful processor and has an "adequate" amount of RAM.

This is the PC that the junior Lamas use to do homework and play their online games so I wanted to be sure that they were not going to find something on the internet that was unsuitable for little eyes.

In Windows 7 it was simple, set the age range and block out the time the account was allowed to use the PC.

In Windows 10 you have to go through the Family Safety and each person signs in with a Microsoft account.  That is all very well, but my kids don't have their own emails let alone a Microsoft Account.
Even the Network Manager has escaped so far without a Microsoft Account.  I have one and have had it since the Tech Previews of 10 started appearing.

The local accounts that the kids have used up to now are not longer relevant as they are now just standard user accounts and have no indication that they are for a child.

Each child needed a MS account created before I could add them to the Family.  Then I had to "add" them to the family.  Then they had to verify that they were happy to "join the Family" by verifying the email received.  This was all actually done by me, as I mentioned before, they do not actually have their own email!  So once this had been done and I had 2 Children attached to the account, I had to set up the times when they were allowed to use the PC and for how long each day they could spend on it.

All Done.  The Network Managers account was changed to be included in the "family" and we were good to go. 

They have been using the PC now for a week or so and it has been working well.  In my opinion, that is!  The Junior Lamas have commented that they have less time on the PC than before.   Nevermind!

It is a overly complicated procedure to set up but I am getting weekly reports on their online activities.

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Hardware issues.

A couple of PCs have landed on the workbench recently doing some strange things.  

A desktop that was reporting a corrupted installation of Windows 7, another Windows XP installation that was BSOD without warning and a Laptop that was just mucking about.

Sometimes I can get a bit bogged down by the Windows issues and cannot see the wood for the trees although the voices in my head are yelling at me.  

I heard RAM Issue RAM Issue with the Windows 7 desktop and although I ignored the voices initially they were absolutely correct.  

Windows 7 was erroring out with inconsistent and different error codes (which never make any damn sense in the first place) I installed Windows 10 successfully, but as soon as I tried to reinstall the Applications it all started playing games again.  Error messages and BSODs all over the place.
I set the onboard hardware diagnostics check to run and it confirmed the SMART status of the HDD as healthy and then found and issue with one of the RAM modules.  When I removed one of the RAM modules the PC started running well again.  The issue was hard to spot initially because it was the second stick of RAM.  Had it been the one in the first bay, the issue would have been more apparent as it would have crashed consistently and not every now and again when Windows was up and running. 

The Windows XP system was a duff graphics card.  As soon as another card was installed it ran ok. 

The Laptop was a HDD error.

It is the law of 3s!

I have had 2 clients this week with malware infected laptops and I  managed to infect my own windows tablet by not checking where the download came from.  The first Accept Window should have alerted me to the fact that the Google Chrome installation was not from Google and was a malware infested package, but by then it was too late and I had installed a pile of Malware.

Again, the law of 3s.

Friday, 25 March 2016

Security Housekeeping - Facebook revisited

When you read a Facebook story that tells you to share this piece of important information with ALL your friends, contacts etc it is often about a scam or hoax or whatever… check your facts before reposting.

Some of this so called information has been doing the rounds since the dawn of the internet!  

Pick a sentence from the post and do a quick google search.  

There are websites dedicated to explaining these myths and internet legends.  Hoax Slayer has a section dedicated to Facebook scams & hoaxes.  Also, if you have time, it makes for hilarious reading. Another one is

Next time someone tells you that Facebook are going to start charging or turn the clock on your iPhone back to 1970 for a retro look or that "famous Person" is moving to your town you can check your facts before reposting to all your Facebook contacts.

Link to Hoax Slayers Current top 5 dumbest

Link to Snopes recent list

Sunday, 6 March 2016

Digital Resolutions - Drivers

Before Christmas I started to do a Digital Resolutions series.  I am going back to it.  

Todays topic is Windows Drivers:  

This has come up quite often following Windows 10 upgrades.   I have found that Windows 10 does not always find the optimal drivers for the bits and pieces on your PC.  So it uses and old one that it found on the back of the shelf behind the old zip drive and the floppy drive cable on top of the XP Installation disk, that's a bit dusty.  

It is difficult to persuade Windows 10 itself that actually these “Are not the Drivers you are looking for” and it might be better to tell windows 10 rather than ask it.  

Without going all Jedi Mind trick on Windows 10 you could use a 3rd party application to update your drivers rather than letting Windows do the work.

There are many applications that will tell you that you have outdated drivers but will try to charge you to actually find, download and install the drivers.

Iobit have a suite of "free for home use" applications that includes Driver Booster.

It scans your system and locates, downloads and installs updated drivers for each component in your system.  Reboot and you are good to go.


Friday, 4 March 2016

New Phone

Its that time again!  The contract is up and I have not only a new phone but a new provider as well!

Its great to get a new bit of tech to put in your pocket but sometimes it is a bit of a culture shock when you go to do something that you have done 100 times before and Oh! that shortcut has gone or in my case this morning, why no predictive text and what is this keyboard, why is it not typing the  word I want when I "Swype" t-h-e?

I've set a lot of stuff up but still there are things that are not quite right.

I don't have any brilliant or fancy answers, I was also missing all my text messages this morning.  You know that one that she sent 18 months ago with the new address, which I have not needed till now.....

It is still fortunately on my old phone.  Maybe I should do a blog post of "Things to do to make your phone look and act like your old one did" !  

I'd read that and probably find it extremely helpful in about 24 months time!

Last night I sent a text to my sister - I ended up sending it to her landline number, as it is now the top one on the list of numbers stored for her.

I have just tried to pair it with my computer and it didn't like it. The phone suggested that I switch bluetooth on and off on the phone or Factory Reset my PC.

I am still using android, just a Mobile provider messed about one.

Enjoy the weekend

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