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Category Archives: Rants

Configure your Windows Services properly to your needs. For example, disable the ‘Print Spooler’ service if you don’t have a printer or don’t plan on printing from that computer more then once a month.

1 – Visit this site: BlackViper
2 – Under ‘Popular Content’ you can choose the OS that you’re using.
3 – Follow the instructions on the page to configure your services. Use the SAFE configuration if you aren’t sure what to do.

I can offer personal computer assistance to those who are hesitant to do these types of things themselves.

Just contact me via e-mail: darkwraith007 AT gmail DOT com

I can provide either phone assistance or in-person assistance (if you’re in the state of VA), and my fees are flat-rate and very reasonable, much better then paying an arm and a leg at other places.

Prevent Identity Theft.
You can save the $30-$50 per month (which costs $360-$600 per year) bullshit that comes from ‘credit monitoring’ and other stuff. Its utter crap and is way overkill for the vast majority of people. Only if you’ve seriously got money to burn or if you have a very high net worth, then you can do whatever.

So how does one prevent identity theft? Its quite simple.

-Go paperless, you’ll thank me later.
If any of your credit card companies or banks or anyone offers paperless statements, take them up on it. You really don’t need the paper. In the event you do need an ‘official’ copy for legal purposes then you can request one. Often if you mention its for legal purposes they’ll send it to you at no charge if you ask nicely (it varies but it wouldn’t hurt to ask). And even so, you’re saving them money since they don’t have to send you a paper statement so they should be more then willing to help you out. If not, I’d suggest taking your business elsewhere.

-Don’t be afraid of the internet, just be smart.
This means don’t EVER do any online banking or shopping or anything involving financial transactions or sensitive information (SSN, birthdate, etc) from anything but your laptop or desktop computer. Mobiles don’t have antivirus so you can’t trust them. Yes its convenient, but at what cost? How do you know its really encrypted unless you’re tech-saavy enough to use an SSH VPN tunnel?
Also this means if you’re wireless on your laptop and using a public WiFi hotspot to connect to the internet, please don’t use that to do any financial stuff either.
If you assume that anything and everything is being recorded, ‘secure’ or not, then you’ll be fine.

-Secure isn’t really secure.
Some places only use the bare-minimum 128-bit encryption, while other stores use more modern 256-bit encryption. The higher, the better. Firefox tells you what strength and type of encryption is being used by a website. Check it! Often you’ll see a so-called ‘secure’ order form that isn’t 100% secure, its a page that ‘contains some unecrypted information’. Just leave it, and never look back. Getting a ‘good deal’ isn’t worth the risk.

-Keep track of things
That means keeping track of your purchases and finances very closely. That means using a good firewall and antivirus and making sure your desktop/laptop computer is completely clean of spyware/malware/crapware. That means backing up important data.

Happy Holidays to All!
Be safe and enjoy your shopping, online or offline!

This week’s tech tip is simple. Maintain your computer.
Clean up your computer. Uninstall and remove the crap you don’t use. If you have data you need but don’t access often, put that data on a backup hard drive. Defrag often and your computer will be happier for it. Disable unnecessary windows services and any of those ‘tray icons’ that you don’t need.
Better yet, pay me to do all this and I not only will spruce up old computers but I can have even newer computers running a lot faster, more stable, and better then before.
Its like an oil change for your car. You can do it yourself and muck around with it or you can pay someone to do it for you.

Enjoy your holidays, and use this indoor time to your advantage!

Invest in a UPS.
I personally use the Geek Squad 1285VA and it has woked well for me, especially the concept of hot-swappable batteries to make it not become a very heavy paperweight in the future.

This one is a simple tech tip that doesn’t require any special setup and can be done with minimal time and effort. Most UPS power supplies will have software for additonal features, but I rarely find that such features are worth having yet more stuff installed on a computer. Its more of a personal preference though, but for those who just wanna get up and running, know that the specific UPS I linked above has very quick setup in that you just plug everything into it, plug the UPS itself into the wall (directly into the wall not into a surge protector) and then turn it on and everything should be working fine.

There is a caveat though, due to the configuration of the outlets if you happen to have some of the newer adapters that are designed for wall outlets, you may end up blocking more then one outlet if you have to plug them in. In this case you may have to weigh what items you want to always have plugged in with battery backup and which ones you can get by with just surge protection.

I recently had moved and my new place seems to have somewhat unstable electricity that randomly fluctuates at least once a day around noon-ish. Having a UPS has been invaluable and more then worth its weight in gold. The prices may put off some people, but you can either buy stuff now or wait until the after-christmas clearance that they have for all the crap that got returned. Its your gamble.

Good luck, and protect your electronics!

Hello everyone!

Greets to all my readers, both old and new. Since posting the Adobe GetPlusPlus Spyware story, I’ve gotten a nice little jump in traffic. Many thanks to ‘SV’ of ‘Staying Cool’.

So for those who don’t give a damn about my life, something actually useful! I’ll do my best to update at least once a week, or hopefully more often then once a week.

Tech Tip of the Week:
BACKUP YOUR FILES!
Seriously I cannot stress this enough! Using your computer without having backups of your important files is like putting your most valuable home possessions in the back of an open-bed truck and parking it in a dark alley a few blocks from your house every night. Or leaving your car unlocked while having a GPS visible in the windshield. Or an expensive-looking MP3 players/iPods. Or how about a laptop, hmm?

Without backups, its the same basic thing. You’re just asking for trouble! Even I’ve had to deal with viruses and other crap (though have since not had to deal with it for quite some time) and thankfully I had Avira AntiVir to catch the buggers or I’d be toasted already.

It pays to browse NewEgg and get the cheapest internal SATA hard drive that you can get in the biggest capacity you can afford. Go for the most GB per $. Then get a USB SATA enclosure. While some might say ‘just get an external drive’, I say screw that because not only can you find an internal drive and an enclosure, combined, for cheaper then a comparable external drive, but if worse comes to worse and the drive craps out, its a simple matter of swapping it out for a new one rather then dumping the whole thing (and contributing to environmental waste). Oh, I’ve always found that burning CD-R or CD-RW (or CD+RW) backups are just a waste of time if your data shifts and changes fairly often with you actually USING your computer. Just avoid zip/jzip drives like the plague, even if you see them on super low clearance they are worth NOTHING due to the fact they’ve had major issues. Google ‘zip drive click of death’ to get a glimmer of what I mean.

-So you should have a backup method, either my recommended hard drive w/enclosure or something external you can backup your files onto.
-Google for ‘Windows Ultimate Boot CD’ (hereafter referred to as ‘WUBCD’) and follow the instructions. Then burn a copy of it onto CD or DVD.
-Backup all your files, everything in My Documents, your bookmarks, and whereever else your programs generally keep their files. Put it all on your external storage.
-You want to use the Ultimate Boot CD and use ‘DriveImageXML’ under the Backup Utilities menu to make an image of everything you have currently.

That’s the gist of it, the rest can be saved for next time.

I’m in a ‘transition’ period here where I plan to stay in my house up until the actual date that they give me no other choice but to leave.
I was looking on craigslist and trying to figure out if I could find a ‘cheap’ place to stay. The result? Roach-infested stinkpiles of shit…ugh.
No thanks, I’d rather stay just 60 days somewhere decent until I get on my feet, then move somewhere decent.

Craigslist is really one of those things that makes you wonder why people still use it, but then again its completely free. Now if only Google could index it and allow people to do custom searches that much easier.

I decided against a military career at this time, instead opting to pursue a career as a financial services advisor. I estimate I can get everything ready to go and be licensed and everything within 60 days at the most. However due to my current living situation, I have at most 30 days from the date that I receive my eviction notice to pack up and GTFO, so to speak.

Times are rough and many people have financial troubles. The crazy thing is that often we end up being our own worst enemy.

Anyhoo..

Tech Tip for today:
When choosing a music player, try to find one that plays OGG files in addition to MP3 files. You never know just what crazy crap that the industry may pull to make MP3 more and more painful to use in the future.
CNET has some nice reviews on MP3 players but don’t neglect a simple Google or even ebay search for that player that just so happens to have a ton of useful things and be priced under $50.

I will be enlisting in the Air Force soon, so that means that I may not get a chance to update for a while.
I spend most of my time on Facebook anyhow, but I may post a few useful tech tips here and there if I get a chance.
Thanks to all the visitors that have come.

For the best computer tips and tricks (to start with), check out this guy’s website. His articles and info taught me almost everything that I know.

Black Viper’s Website

Direct and to the point. Flash 10 is utter bullshit. Its not worth it. It will mess up Firefox and make it crash, stutter, use up massive amounts of RAM (had over 500+ MB of RAM being used with a few flash pages open) and other such un-fun stuff.

Get rid of Flash 10, now. Uninstall it and get Flash 9 instead. Don’t upgrade Flash and flip the finger to Adobe if they try to convince you otherwise.
I’m just so incredibly and utterly pissed at them for ruining things and making Firefox run so poorly with their shit-ass plugin.

The following is a very lengthy ‘comment’ I was going to leave on a wonderful blog I found, but I instead decided to spare the wall of text there and post it here instead.

@ Samuel:
M$ Silverlight, thankfully, isn’t a standard technology yet. I don’t believe it should ever become one either. Your fondness for M$ makes me question why you believe they ‘treat their customers well’ after the fiasco where they had to be sued to hell (and lose) in multiple class-action lawsuits in order to offer the current ‘warranty’ for their crapware Xbox360s that have the dreaded ‘RROD’ (red ring of death) problem. M$ doesn’t have the customer in mind, as just like any other company they’re all about the money. Their company philosophy/strategy is: Dominate, Integrate, Exterminate, aka ‘DIE’. That’s what they want, they want ZERO competition (or only the weakest competition possible that’s still under their thumb). They want everyone to always use everything made by M$ whether they want to or not. When Vista wasn’t selling worth crap, they FORCED every computer software vendor to have Vista by default on all new computers. When customers started crying about antitrust issues, they offered XP ‘only on low-end computers’ aka netbooks, which is an overglorified term for a laptop that is purely for using the internet and not much else, something you could’ve done with a laptop 15+ years ago. As it is, you can build your own computer and put whatever OS you want on there, as that’s always been an option for people. But its not as cheap as paying Dell or HP or whoever to have a pre-built one. The retail cost of XP alone is designed specifically to discourage ‘do it yourself’ people. I’m glad I got it anyhow, as it allows me the ironic freedom of being able to install it to another computer legally (and using an activation bypass if M$ doesn’t feel they want me to do so) after my existing hardware in this computer craps out.

Flash is utter crap, I admit it. It seems each new version has just managed to be even slower and crappier then before. I remember years ago when Flash was still v6 or something and it was small, fast, and easy to use. That’s why everyone was using it. Of course when advertisers started using Flash for adverts, people got pissed, then they discovered the ‘FlashBlock’ addon for Firefox and life goes on.

PDF is another story. PDF is meant to be an *exact* copy of a document and that’s why they have it as an image. Nobody should ever suffer through having that shitware Adobe Reader on their computer. There’s many free and open-source implementations of PDF readers/editors available. I personally use ‘Foxit PDF Reader’ since they have an income stream and their program has worked better for me then other open-source offerings at the time. But development goes onward so I highly recommend doing a search for free/open-source PDF reader/editor. Try to have one that does both but is freeware or open-source. If not, you can always get a ‘portable’ version of the program that doesn’t install anything.

As for PDF printing, I don’t have experience with it but if some idiot sends you a text-only document as PDF, its fairly trivial now to convert it to ‘RTF’ (rich text format) which should preserve their formatting and such. Or just convert it to HTML and see if printing that way works well. If all else fails then ask the person to resend you the actual text document rather then making you use a PDF. Just say your Adobe Reader is crashing your computer 😉 and they’ll understand, lol.

After sending a very vicious and scathing e-mail to Adobe, I managed to get a fairly curt response pointing to an obscure and vague ‘Troubleshooting’ page on Adobe’s website that gives direct links to the flash player download WITHOUT having to use GetPlusPlus.
I’ve coined a new phrase for this type of seedy tactic of ‘bundling’ software. I call it ‘shitware’. Forget ‘crapware’, as that’s way above this load of shitware. Shitware is the type of software that makes you wonder ‘why the fuck did they bother!?’.
Its the lowest of the low, the bottom of the barrel and its primary characteristic that differentiates it from mere ‘crapware’ is that its ubiquitous so we can’t really ‘ignore’ it without losing out on something like being able to watch YouTube videos. I’d say YouTube is one of the main reasons Flash is so damned popular.

All I can say? Hell fucking yeah. This is how you get results, by cussing them the fuck out till they realize their stupidity and handle things properly. Lets only hope that enough people cuss Adobe out that they manage to get rid of ‘GetPlusPlus’ altogether.

Click here for the actual ‘technote’

Click here for direct download for non-IE browsers

Click here for a guide to uninstalling the Adobe Flash Player

And of course if you want to ‘downgrade’ to an older version (I recommend either version 8 or 9, no lower) then click here.

Please be aware that if you do downgrade your Flash, just be damned sure you have a good set of security software to avoid known security issues with older versions of Flash.
Avira Antivirus
Comodo Firewall (install only the firewall during installation)
Firefox with the Flashblock addon to make sure nasty flash doesn’t get through. There’s also a portable version of Firefox if you have an aversion to installing things.
-You can also try the AdBlock Plus addon for even more security and privacy on the web.

**************UPDATE**************
Due to an overwhelming response and traffic to this blog regarding this issue, I’ve gone ahead and put a step by step install and uninstall guide to getting what you want without the crapware. This is a guide if you’re using Firefox on Windows, since Macs are ‘easy like a cheap slut’ and Linux people, by virtue of being able to install the Linux distro of their choice without their computer imploding, should be easily able to figure things out on their own or searching the net for it.

Installing Flash without the shitware:
1 – Get Adobe Flash here.
2 – Remove the checkbox next to “Free McAfee Security Scan (optional)” to make sure that shitware doesn’t install
3 – Very carefully read the light-grey text that says: “Adobe may use the Adobe Download Manager to seamlessly install your software.”
4 – Click the yellow button marked ‘Agree and Install Now’ after you make SURE there’s no checkmark next to the McAffee Security Scan.
5 – If you’re using Firefox, it “prevented this site from asking you to install software”. So just leave that alone.
6 – Click on the link that says “Your download will start automatically. If it does not start, click here to download.”
7 – Flash 10 will now install WITHOUT any crapware.

Uninstall/Removal of the shitware if its already infected your computer:
1 – Go to Add/Remove Programs and remove the ‘Mozilla GetPlusPlus’ plugin there.
2 – Once this is complete, do a ‘Find File’ search for the file named ‘np_gp.dll’ and delete it if you find it. Sometimes an ‘uninstall’ doesn’t really do its job.
3 – God help you if you want to uninstall the McAfee shitware. Its beyond the scope of this guide and I damn guarantee its a lot more convulated to completely remove it then to simply use ‘Add/Remove Programs’.

Here’s what McAfee has to say about its shitware. Yes, you read that right, its a program that pretty much duplicates the much-more-widely-supported functionality in ‘Windows Security Center‘ that’s enabled by default in WinXP Home and Vista, only they instead shove their McAfee shitware on you. I wouldn’t be surprised if it just reads the information from that API and just displays it in their own window. I might see if the program even runs when you disable Windows Security Center, lol.