Check your Google account

Google’s Sensorvault database contains location data for hundreds of millions of devices all over the world. Law enforcement officials have been using warrants to obtain information from Sensorvault in an effort to identify suspects in crimes. Sensorvault holds data from a Google Location History, a function which is not enabled by default, though some services, like traffic alerts, prompt users to enable it.

Law enforcement officials have been seeking data from Sensorvault about devices in the vicinity at the time of a crime. While the initial data Google provides are anonymized, once law enforcement has analyzed movements patterns and reduced devices of interest to a smaller number, Google provides law enforcement with the information of the owners of those devices.

To check on thing, log into your Google account at https://myaccount.google.com

Check the following:

  • Review your privacy settings
  • We keep your account protected
  • Make Google yours

This is not just to stop law enforcement but also to secure your account.

Make sure you have an alternative way to recover your password and it is current.

Read the information. You may need to scroll down or click on a link to get further information. If unsure, don’t touch.

Note: If you have a Gmail Email address or an Android smartphone, then you have a Google account. Log in with the same credentials as your Gmail Email account. If you auto login, you won’t have to know your credentials.

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New and updated features to the Spring 2019 Update of Window 10

As mentioned previously, the spring update has been rename May 2019 Update and is using the code “19H1” [2019, first half]. The delay is supposedly to test the final [or escrow] build extensively. It is now expected to be release on May 10th.

The following are among the features and options that have been updated and are expected to be in the 19H1 release:

  • Complete over hall of the Windows Update setup.
  • Less cluttered search box since Cortana has its own icon. Plus you can adjust the indexing of what to not to search.
  • Built in hypervisor [not in the Home version] that will run in a sandbox.
  • Microsoft accounts can be based on a phone number, with no email address required.
  • Security Center [formerly Windows Defender Security Center] adds a tamper protection setting and a unified protection history for suspicious events.
  • Can now install fonts by drag and dropping in a box.
  • After previously adding a dark theme, a light theme has also been added.
  • Use the Task Manager often? You can set the default tab to open up. Plus adds a DPI Awareness column that helps pinpoint offending apps.
  • Copy text, images and files between PCs is easier with the Cloud Clipboard.
  • Snip & Sketch, the heir apparent to Snipping Tool, adds further options such as capturing a window. Snipping Tool is still around for now.
  • Updated printer dialog box.
  • Updated network dialog box [if entering network information manually].

Windows 10 v1903 delayed and renamed

Microsoft has announced that the spring 2019 release [a.k.a. v1903] has been pushed back to May and will be called May 2019 Update or 19H1.

Microsoft said they have decided to delay the release so that they can extend the pre-release phase of testing to catch more last minute bugs.

The “19H1” designation gives them further leeway as they aren’t forced to release a final version by a specific month. For a “H1” name, they could release it any time between January [unlikely] until June [still possible].

This also delays the next release of the server equivalent.

More privacy issues

Privacy issues have become a problem and governments aren’t doing much to curb the issue.

Manufacturers or software developers want the default to be automatically opt in to everything. That means [for example], you install software on a computer or a device, they want to get your information unless you turn it off.

Others such as privacy activists want the default to be opt out of everything. This means, you install software on a computer or a device, you need to allow enable the information they want.

Recently I bought a new smartphone. It allowed me to restore my applications and some of my settings from my previous smartphone. Some of the applications’ settings weren’t restored even though the application was.

Case in point, the HP Smart application for Androids. It allows you to print to a printer on a network but offers additional features that you may not get otherwise.

On first usage, it wants you to agree to various agreements or settings. Of course, if you don’t agree to certain settings [like below], you can’t use the application.

If most people were using the application, would use the application they would say “I want to print. I don’t need this” and then check the box on the screen above and click the “Start” button.

Now if some had the time, they’d probably click on each of the blue links on that page. “HP Privacy Statement” and “End User License Agreement” basically has no actions. You need to accept.

However, you can control the “Data Collection Settings”. Below is the screen you will see if you select that one.

Note that they recommend that you allow both accept both. It is up to you if you want to. Read it carefully.

I only used this application as an example.

After installing an application, go into the settings and see what it will send back to the developer or others.

Critical update for Windows 7 / Server 2008 R2 users

Microsoft has announced that all Windows 7 / Server 2008 R2 Updates will require an update in order to continue to get Windows Updates [the same will go if WSUS 3.2/3.0 SP2 is used]. This is for SHA-2 code signing.

After August 13, 2019, Windows 7 / Server 2008 R2 Updates will not receive any updates.

As the update was just release this past Tuesday, you would of figured that the update would be included in this week’s updates, but so far I haven’t seen any.

For further information click here. Click here for the deadlines.

Miscellaneous computer tips – Volume 12

The new Windows Update

With Windows 10 comes a different Windows Update. The one thing you may notice is that if the Windows Update settings already lists updates to download and install, you can’t rescan for any newer updates. The old wuauclt /scannow doesn’t work.

Or can you…

There is a new Windows Update tool called usoclient.exe [which can be found in c:\windows\sydstem32]. It has the following options:

  • refreshsettings: Refresh the settings if any changes were made
  • restartdevice: Restart the device to finish installation of updates
  • resumeupdate: Resume the update installation after a reboot
  • startdownload: Start to download the patches
  • startinstall: Start to install the downloaded patches
  • scanInstallwait: Combines scan, download, and install
  • startinteractivescan: Will open dialogues and/or ask for user input as well as to show progress or report any errors
  • startscan: Start a scan

Example:

usoclient startscan

Notes:

  • By itself, you get nothing. There are no command line parameters that you can see [i.e. no /help or /?].
  • There is no hyphen or forward slash for the options.

What is Storage Sense?

In the background, Microsoft has been developing and updating Storage Sense. Storage Sense now has the capabilities of Disk Cleanup plus other features.

Storage Sense is intended to be a silent assistant that just takes care of your storage space on a Windows 10 device. When you configure all of the settings it just works in the background to keep your storage healthy and well maintained.

In Microsoft whacky and infinite wisdom, this feature is turned off. You can go to PC Settings > System > Storage and then select any of your systems storage devices to manually see what the situation is with disk space and perform maintenance right there yourself.

Corrupt system components?

If you are getting a sense that there may be some corruption among your system components, run the following command from the command prompt. Give it a few minutes to run.

DISM /online /cleanup-image /restorehealth

This should help clean corruption among your system components.

A reminder that, as usual, research to see if these tips may help you. And as usual, use at your own risk.

What to expect in the April 2019 Update to Windows 10

The busy beavers at Microsoft are already working out what will be in the officially named April 2019 Update for windows 10 [a.k.a. 19H1 or v1903]. Among the new and updated are:

  • Remember the Spectre mess in early 2018? Some slower systems [particular 2015 made and before] took a slight hit in speed. Microsoft is enabling “retpoline” and “import optimization” options which will give those older systems some speed back.
  • 7 GB of disk space will now be reserved for installing updates, so updates don’t fail because of a lack of disk space. If you have a very small system drive this could be an issue. There should be an option to reduce the size.
  • Unless Microsoft changes its mind, Home users can pause getting updates for up to a week. But you can’t re-enable the pausing right after the pausing ended.
  • There is a new light theme. The Start menu, taskbar, notifications, action center sidebar, print dialog, and other interface elements can now be light instead of dark.
  • Windows Sandbox is available for Pro users. An integrated, isolated desktop environment where you can run software in a container without affecting your host operating system.
  • Microsoft has cleaned up the default Start menu to just a single column and is much simpler. But this only affects a new account. Not an existing account.
  • You can manually uninstall more built-in apps such as 3D Viewer, Groove Music, Mail, Paint 3D.
  • The search bar functions as a normal search box but there’s a separate Cortana icon on the Windows taskbar. You can hide one, both or none. Search allows you to search some areas specifically – for example just Email or just apps.
  • The file search feature in the Start menu can now search for files anywhere on your PC using the Windows search index instead of just Documents, Music, Pictures, Downloads, and Videos, and your Desktop.
  • Optionally you can now create a Microsoft account without a password online. That account is linked to your phone number, and Microsoft will text you a security code whenever you try to sign in.
  • The system tray can optionally display an icon when you need to reboot your computer to finish with the updates.
  • Additional troubleshooters are available. Some may be done automatically for you in the background such as critical troubleshooting which can’t be turned off Notifications can now be hidden for any full screen for any app – not just games in full screen.
  • You can use in File Explorer “friendly dates” by default. So, rather than dates like “1/31/2019”, you’ll see dates like “Yesterday,” “Tuesday,” “January 31,” and “January 31, 2019”. This can be turned off.
  • Storage Settings will help you see where space is being used and if anything can be cleaned up.
  • Unsure why not in Windows before, but you can synchronize your computer with a time server on the Internet.
  • More network settings have been added to a network adapter instead of using it in the Control Panel.
  • For Active hours, you can allow Windows to configure it for you. It will check to see when you don’t use the computer normally.
  • Added is a globe-shaped icon that appears when your PC doesn’t have any Internet connection.
  • If using a microphone, it will show in the system tray. Hover the mouse over the icon and it will tell you which application is using it.
  • When “Tamper Protection” option is enabled, this setting protects important security settings. So an application can’t make changes in the background without your approval.
  • Task manager will allow you to set up a default tab which will open up when task manager is open.
  • Windows now lets you choose a cursor color and size. You can make the cursor larger and change its color, making it easier to see.
  • The Disk Cleanup tool now displays a warning when you click the “Downloads” option, warning that this is your personal downloads folder and all files inside it will be removed.