Miscellaneous computer tips – Volume 5

Tip #1:

If you have a Hotmail.com/.ca, outlook.com/.ca or live.com/.ca account and use the web site [not just an application] this may be of interest for you. Microsoft added a feature called “Focus” I guess it highlights new Emails. If you don’t want it, follow these steps to disable it:

  1. Towards the upper right corner within the web page, click on the wheel and then “Options” down at the bottom.
  2. Scroll down on the left [near the bottom] and choose “Focused inbox”.
  3. On the right, if you don’t want the feature, select “Don’t sort messages”.
  4. Click on the “Save” button above.
  5. To go back to your mail, click on the left arrow next to “Options” near the top left of the web page.

You can return to the focused inbox by reversing things any time you want.

Tip #2:

For those on the run around the world or maybe you have clients in multiple time zones, you can add 2 additional clocks in Windows that can be visible when you click on the date and time in the right corner. But say 3 isn’t enough. You can add as many as you want by modifying the registry. Note that this is a per user setting.

  1.  Open the registry editor, REGEDIT.
  2.  Navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\.
  3.  Add the following keys in sequence: TimeDate, AdditionalClocks, 1. So it should look like HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\TimeDate\AdditionalClocks\1
  4. Under the 1 key, create a new 32-bit DWORD value called Enable and set its value data to 1.
  5. The create a new string value named DisplayName and set it to any desired name which will be used when viewing the time. You can call it a specific place or something like “Home”, “Bob”, etc.
  6. The create a new string value named TzRegKeyName. This will be one of the manu actual time zones around the world. Choose one from: Afghanistan Standard Time, Alaskan Standard Time, Arab Standard Time, Arabian Standard Time, Arabic Standard Time, Argentina Standard Time, Atlantic Standard Time, AUS Central Standard Time, AUS Eastern Standard Time, Azerbaijan Standard Time, Azores Standard Time, Bahia Standard Time, Bangladesh Standard Time, Belarus Standard Time, Canada Central Standard Time, Cape Verde Standard Time, Caucasus Standard Time, Central America Standard Time, Cen. Australia Standard Time, Central Asia Standard Time, Central Brazilian Standard Time, Central Europe Standard Time, Central European Standard Time, Central Pacific Standard Time, Central Standard Time, Central Standard Time (Mexico), China Standard Time, Dateline Standard Time, E. Africa Standard Time, E. Australia Standard Time, E. Europe Standard Time, E. South America Standard Time, Eastern Standard Time, Eastern Standard Time (Mexico), Easter Island Standard Time, Egypt Standard Time, Ekaterinburg Standard Time, Fiji Standard Time, FLE Standard Time, Georgian Standard Time, GMT Standard Time, Greenland Standard Time, Greenwich Standard Time, GTB Standard Time, Hawaiian Standard Time, India Standard Time, Iran Standard Time, Israel Standard Time, Jordan Standard Time, Kaliningrad Standard Time, Korea Standard Time, Libya Standard Time, Line Islands Standard Time, Magadan Standard Time, Mauritius Standard Time, Middle East Standard Time, Montevideo Standard Time, Morocco Standard Time, Mountain Standard Time, Mountain Standard Time (Mexico), Myanmar Standard Time, Namibia Standard Time, Nepal Standard Time, New Zealand Standard Time, Newfoundland Standard Time, North Asia East Standard Time, North Asia Standard Time, N. Central Asia Standard Time, Pacific SA Standard Time, Pacific Standard Time, Pacific Standard Time (Mexico), Pakistan Standard Time, Paraguay Standard Time, Romance Standard Time, Russia Time Zone 3, Russia Time Zone 10, Russia Time Zone 11, Russian Standard Time, Samoa Standard Time, South Africa Standard Time, SA Eastern Standard Time, SA Pacific Standard Time, SA Western Standard Time, SE Asia Standard Time, Singapore Standard Time, Sri Lanka Standard Time, Syria Standard Time, Taipei Standard Time, Tasmania Standard Time, Tokyo Standard Time, Tonga Standard Time, Turkey Standard Time, US Eastern Standard Time, US Mountain Standard Time, UTC, UTC-02, UTC-11, UTC+12, Venezuela Standard Time, Vladivostok Standard Time, West Asia Standard Time, W. Australia Standard Time, W. Central Africa Standard Time, W. Europe Standard Time, West Pacific Standard Time, Yakutsk Standard Time

So it could look like something below if you created a registry file:

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\TimeDate\AdditionalClocks\1]

“Enable”=dword:00000001

“DisplayName”=”Home”

“TzRegKeyName”=”Hawaiian Standard Time”

Tip #3:

Ever wanted to change the boot-up, login and locked screen in Windows 7? [This feature is in the Settings section in Windows 8.1 and 10.]

Find or create an image. Requirements:

  • must be less than 256 KB in size
  • convert to JPG
  • match resolution of the screen if possible
  • the name should be backgroundDefault.jpg [note the capitol “D” – strange].

Open the registry and go to:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Authentication\LogonUI\Background
  • Create or change value named OEMBackground to 1 [it’s a REG_DWORD].
  • Go to C:\Windows\System32\oobe\info\backgrounds
  • If not there, create the missing folder(s).
  • Copy backgroundDefault.jpg into the backgrounds folder.
  • The change takes effect immediately. There is no need to restart your computer.

Note:

As usual, when modifying the registry, take precautions such as backing the registry up first. Use at your own risk.

WannaCrypt may have been a dud for most

While the WannaCrypt/WannaCry ransomware caused some havoc, primarily in Europe and mostly of them in eastern Europe, with the infection hitting in the 6 figures, it turned out to be a big dud.

First, many did not pay the ransom. I am guessing many of those in eastern Europe cannot afford $300+.

Second, while it heavily affected those with Windows 7 computers, I suspect many of those are unprotected or not patched as they could be pirated copies of Windows 7. Eastern Europe and Asia [also hit hard] are notorious for high piracy rates. Many with pirated copies do not want to possible compromise their system with an update that could botch their copies.

Third, even though somewhere around an estimated 10 percent of computers are still using Windows XP, an operating system that has had no support for about 3 years, those who programmed botched things up because when WannaCrypt got onto those computers they wouldn’t spread to other computers and many of them would crash.

Kaspersky claims almost 98% of machines infected were Windows 7 based. Servers were just over 1% and most of those were Server 2008 R2.  Windows 10 accounted for 0.03% [I guess some turned off Windows Updates]. Servers account for 1.4% with most of them on Windows Server 2008 R2 – the server version of Windows 7.

WannaCry/WannaCrypt Microsoft Windows patches

If you are up to date on Windows patching, you should be covered. If not, you can still get the patch at http://catalog.update.microsoft.com/v7/site/Search.aspx?q=4012598.

It is important to know that Microsoft also release patches for unsupported Windows XP SP3 and Windows Server 2003.

How to restore an uninstalled an app that came with Windows 10

It comes the time where you have uninstalled an app that came with Windows 10 but now you want it back. The following procedure usually works.

Note: Sorry. I am not a PowerShell expert. If you get an error or doesn’t restore, I can’t help you.

Open Notepad or your favorite text editor. You will use this to build your restore line.

Add the following line at the top:

Add-AppxPackage -register "C:\Program Files\WindowsApps\XXX\AppxManifest.xml" –DisableDevelopmentMode

Find “PowerShell” in the Start Menu.

Note: Not the ones with “ISE” or “(x86)” in it unless you are using the 32-bit version of Windows.

Right click on it, and run as Administrator.

You will need to approve the User Account Control.

First thing to do is get a list of apps by issuing the following command which will list all available apps:

Get-Appxpackage –Allusers

Say you uninstalled Windows Store and want it back, you need to scroll and find the group of lines that include WindowsStore in it [no space in it]. Across from PackageFullName in that group of lines will be a semi cryptic text.

You need to copy that line [unless you want to type it!]. To do so, highlight the first character in “Microsoft” and keep on left clicking until you reach the end of the line. Press Ctrl-C to copy what you highlighted. The highlighting disappears.

Go into Notepad [or equivalent]. Replace the XXX in the line that you added in there with text you copied.

With v1607 on a 64-bit system, it should look something like [may not be exactly]:

Add-AppxPackage -register "C:\Program Files\WindowsApps\Microsoft.WindowsStore_11610.1001.23.0_x64__8wekyb3d8bbwe\AppxManifest.xml" –DisableDevelopmentMode

Copy the full line in the text editor. Go back into the PowerShell window and paste what you copied by right clicking on a blank line. It should paste. Hit the Enter key. If you get no red text, it should be restored.

Note: Don’t ask me why but you never see a “Command completed successfully” or equivalent. You have to assume it was successful if no red text.

Note: In the case of Windows Store it is listed in the Start Menu as “Store”.

 

Warning before installing Windows 10 Creators Update

Microsoft have issued a warning for those thinking of manually upgrading Windows 10 to the Creators Update [a.k.a. v1703, a.k.a. Redstone 2, a.k.a. build 15063]: Don’t.

The big update has already run into problems with some types of Broadcom Bluetooth LE radios: the code was killing connections with accessories, apparently. So Microsoft stopped pushing automatic downloads to computers carrying that hardware. There may also be others hardware issues.

When an issue such as this happens, they issue a “block” which will stop the computer from getting the update. It doesn’t stop, however, a person from upgrading manually on their own with an ISO or other ways. Once the issue has been corrected, the block is removed.

That’s why Microsoft started with newer hardware first. It will give them time to correct the problem.

So far maybe 10 per cent of Windows machines are running the Creators Update. Microsoft’s own recent hardware are leading the pack in upgrades.

Unsure how they release CU with this issue – except maybe because they gave themselves a deadline. But this is v1703. At one point, it looked like it would be called v1704. An extra month [or at least a week or so] wouldn’t have caused these problems.

 

Windows Vista [support] is dead…

Miss it yet?

For anyone still using it, there will be no further support. No updates. whatever is in Microsoft’s web site will be come static.

Most if not all software developers and those supporting peripherals [such as printers] have probably already stopped supporting Vista long ago.

If you still have it, good luck!

[Windows Server 2008 support ends in January 2020.]

 

Google’s Chrome browser isn’t secure

A word of warning when you use the Google Chrome web browser. The browser uses a misleading notification system.

When you see the “Secure” notification in the browser location bar, this means that the connection between the browser and the website you went to is encrypted. But this does not mean that the you should fully trust the web site. It isn’t guaranteed that the web site is safe from phishing, malware, etc.

This is [as I said] because the “Secure” notification only means that there is encryption between your computer’s browser and that site. You can encrypt anything.

If the encryption certificate for the site has been revoked, the Chrome browser will still show it as “Secure”. Google knows about the issue but hasn’t corrected the issue.

In addition, according to year end reports [2016, 2017], Google’s Chrome browser continues to lead all browsers in vulnerabilities making it less secure.

[Note: Both links above may be technical for some. The results appear on page 20 for both reviews and the comparison of web browsers are on page 21. As well, they are external links. View at your own risk.]

Some vulnerabilities are more critical than others. But with the Chrome browser picking up users over the past few years, some vulnerabilities have been aimed at the browsers. Others are from sloppy programming.

This doesn’t mean you should stop using the Chrome web browser. More like you should understand that the browser isn’t 100% secure and Google’s claim that it is, is misleading. But no web browser is secure.