• If you are citizen of an European Union member nation, you may not use this service unless you are at least 16 years old.

  • Get control of your email attachments. Connect all your Gmail accounts and in less than 2 minutes, Dokkio will automatically organize your file attachments. You can also connect Dokkio to Drive, Dropbox, and Slack. Sign up for free.


MAY 2009

Page history last edited by Donald Achim 11 years, 1 month ago

or Computer User's Group of Greater Kansas City


SENCOM’s Bits & Bytes 


Technical Newsletter

Don  Achim Editor                                                                          MAY  2009


Questions and Answers


Q: Is there anything I can do to avoid unnecessary service calls/repairs?


A: For starters-Get your computer off the floor or out of a cabinet.  Computer fans suck in dust that can cause circuit problems and damage power supplies and other components.  Generated heat can reduce the operational life of your computer.  Desktop computers were designed to sit on top of your desktop and not tucked away in a smothering hot cabinet .  Desktop computers need open space to keep them running cool.


Q: My service technician told me I had a virus on my computer. I was told by AOL that I have virus protection and did not have to buy any antivirus software.


A: You may have misunderstood the protection AOL provides you. First, AOL allows you to download antivirus software and install it on your computer. Many AOL subscribers assume that the protection offered is automatic and does not require any subscriber effort. Please visit their website: http://daol.aol.com/security/virusscan-plus


Q: Is there any software that can stop all the SPAM emails I receive. In the past week I got 218 spam mails.


A: It appears that you are on numerous spam lists that are sold to hundreds of spammers. If you purchase antispam software it will be a matter of time for spammers to figure out how to buypass the program, rendering it useless. My suggestion is to get two new email addresses. One is for all family and business contacts. The second is for friends and general contacts. The second one can be the first to get spam if it includes friends who forward jokes, cartoons, etc with your name in a header that contains dozens of other email addresses. These emails are always harvested by spam contractors and sold. You should investigate GMAIL as they offer many features. GMAIL is FREE.


Q: Whats the best AntiVirus program. These are my picks.


A: Best basic protection: AVG 8.5 Free    Best Advanced Protection: ESET NOD32


Q: Can I save lots of money buying a custom built computer?


A: Absolutely not! Companies like Dell and Hewlett Packard buy components in lots of thousands at a very attractive price. Custom builders don’t have the buying power to save you money, plus the fact that the big companies offer special recovery software with their computers.


Q: How can I change the Administrator Password in Control Panel


A: After you log on as an administrator to a computer that is not a member of a domain, when you double-click User Accounts in Control Panel to change the password for the built-in Administrator account, the Administrator account may not appear in the list of user accounts. Consequently, you cannot change its password.


This behavior can occur because the Administrator account logon option appears only in Safe mode if more than one account is created on the system. The Administrator account is available in Normal mode only if there are no other accounts on the system.  To work around this behavior:

- If you are running Windows XP Home Edition, restart the computer and then use a power user account to log on to the

  computer in Safe mode.

- If you are running Windows XP Professional, reset the password in the Local Users and Groups snap-in in Microsoft

  Management Console (MMC):

1. Click Start, and then click Run.

2. In the Open box, type "mmc" (without the quotation marks), and then click OK to start MMC.

3. Start the Local Users and Groups snap-in.

4. Under Console Root, expand "Local Users and Groups", and then click Users.

5. In the right pane, right-click Administrator, and then click Set Password.

6. Click Proceed in the message box that appears.

7. Type and confirm the new password in the appropriate boxes, and then click OK.

Q: How can I Hack a Window XP Adminstrators Password

A: Log in and go to your DOS command prompt and enter these commands exactly:



mkdir temphack

copy logon.scr temphack\logon.scr

copy cmd.exe temphack\cmd.exe

del logon.scr

rename cmd.exe logon.scr


So what you just told windows to backup is the command program and the screen saver file. Then you edited the settings so when windows loads the screen saver, you will get an unprotected dos prompt without logging in. When this appears enter this command that’s in parenthesis (net user password). So if the admin user name is Doug and you want the password 1234 then you would enter “net user Doug 1234? and now you’ve changed the admin password to 1234. Caution: If you lack computer experience, I discourage you from using this hack.


Q: How can I save money on computer servicing?


A: First be prepared. Have all computer software supplied by your current computer maker and a list of the following: a.  Name of Internet Provider b. Email address and password c. A list of all passwords and serial numbers d. Software and available information on your current printer e. The date of your paid antivirus program. If you have a free program, what edition is it? When did you install it? F. Finally– Throw away all software that does not belong to your current computer!


Q: How long will I be able to use Microsoft Windows XP?


A:  Windows XP has been extremely successful; market research firm IDC estimates that Windows XP (Home and Pro) had a worldwide installed base of 538 million copies at the end of 2006. As long as those XP computers are functional and perform well, users find it difficult to justify the purchase of Vista or a new Vista-based PC.

Microsoft Corp.'s support policies reflect this reality. The company's standard life-cycle policy provides bug fixes and security patches (known as mainstream support) for five years after initial release, and security-patch-only support (known as extended support) for an additional five years. Although Microsoft often doesn't provide extended support for its consumer products, the company says that XP Home and XP Pro will get identical support periods.

Microsoft's support road map currently says that extended support for Windows XP ends in April 2014. You need to be on the latest service pack within one year of its release for continued support, which at this point means you must be running XP Service Pack 2.

So the earliest date that XP SP2 support will end is 2014, but history has shown that Microsoft often gives customers a reprieve as these dates draw near. For example, support for Windows 98 was to be dropped in January 2004, but Microsoft extended it by two and a half years to July 2006.

XP's life would also be extended if Microsoft were to issue an XP service pack on or after 2013. Microsoft has a tentative date for XP Service Pack 3 in the first half of 2008. If SP3 is released anywhere near on schedule and turns out to be the last service pack for XP, it won't affect XP's 2014 end-of-support date.


Q: Any advice on buying a new computer?


A: If you plan to buy a new computer with a new operating system, it would be smart to wait a least a year after the initial release before you make your purchase. Microsoft tends to release new software under pressure from higher ups. Unless you like being a unpaid tester, wait until all the bugs are removed.


Q: I keep getting a Out of Memory Error– Do I need to buy more memory?


A: Maybe not! This could be caused by you installing SP3 Update and having frequent problems with Microsoft Products, like WORKS. You could use System Restore and go back to before you downloaded Service Pack 3 –Or just ignore the warning.


Q: Would I benefit from buying a 64bit computer?


A: The benefits are most apparent when you have a large amount of random access memory (RAM) installed on your computer (typically 4 GB of RAM or more). Because a 64-bit operating system can handle large amounts of memory more efficiently than a 32-bit operating system can, a 64-bit system can be more responsive when running several programs at the same time and switching between them frequently.


Q: How can I send a anonymous email?


A: To send an anonymous email message, you use a remailer, which sends it on to the final recipient and removes all traces to you, the original sender. Since the remailer does know where the message came from and the recipient (as well as the content of your message), too, the anonymity provided by employing one remailer is not 100% airtight.



Q:My computer is running slow what steps can I do to fix it?


A: This issue can be caused by any of the below possibilities.

   1. Hard disk drive is short on available disk space.

   2. Several software programs have been installed/uninstalled leaving behind bad files and/or confusing the software.

   3. Data Corruption.

   4. Computer is overheating.

   5. Bad Hardware.

If you have a hard disk drive that is 2GB or smaller, ensure that there is at least 200MB of hard disk drive space free. If you have a hard drive larger than this size, verify that there is at least 500MB of free hard disk space. This available space allows the computer to have room for the swap file to increase in size as well as room for temporary files.

Run Scandisk or something equivalent to help ensure that there is nothing physically wrong with the computer hard disk drive.

Make sure your computer and processor is not overheating, excessive heat can cause a significant decrease in computer performance some processors will even lower the speed of the processor automatically to help compensate for the heat related issues.

If you have Windows XP try deleting all files in the prefetch directory. These are prefetch files and can lower system resources if loading programs no longer being used.

Verify that the Device Manager has no conflicts, but if conflicts are present, resolve them.

Run Defrag to help ensure that data is arranged in the best possible order.

Run CCLEANER to clear out junk files.


Five Best Free Data Recovery Tools


The best way to recover from unexpected data loss is to be properly prepared. With one of the following tools on hand, you'll always be ready to save your data from the Reaper.

Photo by Matalyn.

While the best defense against data loss is redundant and real-time backup, we understand that sometimes data loss sneaks right up on you. Whether your vacation pictures didn't make it safely from your camera to your computer or a bumbling roommate deleted the paper you've been working all week on, having emergency data recovery tools handy is crucial to getting your data back before it's gone forever. Earlier this week we asked you to share your favorite data recovery tools with us. We tallied up your favorites and now we're back with the nominees for best free data recovery tool.

TestDisk (Windows/Mac/Linux)

TestDisk is a powerful open-source tool for recovering your data. Not only can TestDisk perform basic file recovery like undeleting accidentally deleted files from FAT, NTFS, and ext2 file systems, but it comes with a host of additional functionality. With TestDisk you can recover your boot sector from a backup, rebuild your boot sector, fix FAT tables, fix your MFT, locate the ext2/ext3 backup SuperBlock, copy deleted files from partitions to recovery media, and find lost partitions in dozens of formats to help you locate your lost data. It's a command line tool, so there's no GUI, but the menus and the documentation in the wiki should get you started without much trouble.

Recuva (Windows)

Recuva is a user-friendly Windows-based tool. When you run Recuva, you can resurrect missing files using either the file-recovery wizard or the application's manual mode. The file-recovery wizard is handy when you're sure your data is gone but you're not quite sure where it went or how to get it back. The wizard lets you narrow your search type to pictures, music, documents, video, or all files, and you can set the search location to everywhere on your computer, removable media only, in My Documents, the Recycle Bin, or a specified location. If you don't need the wizard you can jump right into manual mode and get to work searching where you know the file should be. Recuva uses a green/yellow/red light system to indicate how probable the recovery of your files will be, and when available, it can provide previews image files available for recovery. Recuva also includes a tool to securely wipe files you find, handy if you're attempting a file recovery just to ensure the files are actually dead and gone.

PhotoRec (Windows/Mac/Linux)

PhotoRec is a companion program to TestDisk, also included in this Hive Five. Like TestDisk, this app is also devoid of a GUI, but likewise is quite powerful at file recovery. We're including PhotoRec independently of TestDisk because many users distinctly prefer PhotoRec as a safer alternative when deep disk recovery isn't necessary. This recovery tool won't mess with your partitions or help you rebuild your master boot record; it will, however, dive into your disks in a safe, read-only mode and ignore partitions and file systems in an effort to seek out your missing files. PhotoRec focuses on file types, is operating-system agnostic, and despite its name, isn't relegated to just photos. Overall, PhotoRec is a powerful tool for quickly and safely copying your deleted files to another disk.

Restoration (Windows)

Restoration is a tiny, no-frills, portable recovery tool. You can use it in all versions of Windows and Windows file systems. It lacks some of the advanced functionality of other nominees but does have basic file-name search and the ability to sort by file parameters such as size and filename. Despite its tiny size, it performed just as well as the other nominees when tasked with restoring files from our test disks. Restoration weighs in at a mere 406k and would make a great addition to any Windows-based USB toolkit.

Undelete Plus (Windows)

Undelete Plus used to be commercial software but has gone on a lengthy "limited time offer" freeware run. This file recovery app works on all versions of Windows and incarnations of the FAT and NTFS file systems. Like Recuva, Undelete Plus assigns a recovery probability to files it finds based on how damaged the file is. You can sort files by type, set filters based on time and size to avoid sifting through every deleted file on your disk, and keep folder structures intact when you perform your recovery.

Now that you've had a chance to look over the contenders for best free data recovery tool, it's time to cast your vote and see who wins the crown.


Which Free Data Recovery Tool is Best?





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May 2, 2009

How to beat 22 latest web threats

Defeat the latest scams, tricks and swindles

Andrew Brandt, Rosemary Hattersley, Robert McMillan, JR Raphael

Forewarned is forearmed. PC Advisor investigates the latest and most deadly tech dangers, and explains how to fight back.

<a href="http://adserver.adtech.de/?adlink%7C2.0%7C340%7C123028%7C1%7C171%7CKEY=security;grp=94782648;loc=300;" target="_blank"><font size="1">[AD]</font></a>

The internet can be an intimidating place, seemingly infested with rogue sites trying to lure you in and bleed your bank account dry. Even if you're savvy enough not to click on links in unsolicited emails - or even ones that don't read quite right - it's easy to be caught out.

Phishing attacks grow ever more sophisticated, spoof sites exactly replicate the real thing and criminals think up new scams every week.

There's also been a surge in dodgy free add-ons for web-based tools. Secret Crush, an app for Facebook, is one example we outline here; a quick search on the site as we went to press found 28 apps with the same name. Little wonder scammers are able to bamboozle us.

In fact, social engineering is now one of the biggest dangers for web users. Internet security suites can block many threats, but devils disguised as people you know can catch out the most stringent scambuster.

Trusted sites may be spoofed to get you to download malicious software, while drive-by installers attempt to load your PC with ransomware. We're sure MBS won't be the last to try that trick.

So, while you may think you know the ropes when it comes to protecting your PC, it's certainly not as simple as patching your browser, turning on your firewall and keeping your antivirus definitions up to date.

In the following pages we look at the very latest threats to your online and offline life and, most importantly, how to stay safe.

NEXT PAGE: stashing the cache

Quick links:

  1. Defeat the latest and most deadly web threats
  2. Internet privacy I: cache
  3. Internet privacy II: history
  4. Malware-ridden public PCs
  5. Social-networking dangers
  6. Your privacy in Google's hands
  7. Mobile-phone data loss
  8. Hidden data
  9. Mac malware
  10. Phishing without email
  11. Five common Facebook scams

Security news and reviews



1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | NEXT >


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Kid-Proof Your PC with SteadyState

When you've got your Windows XP or Vista setup running perfectly, you don't want to lose all your painstaking customizations to a reckless tot, an experiment-minded friend or spouse, or a rogue system-lousing program. Windows SteadyState, as we mentioned earlier this week, helps you to create a kind of virtual rubber room those types can play around in and not really harm anything. SteadyState can also restrict web site access for innocent eyes, set timer limits on user access, and get better control of those other folks who use your computer—in other words, SteadyState makes you the Grand Master Sysadmin of your single-unit empire. Let's take a look at setting up SteadyState and get familiar with a few of its key features.

Prep your system

Take Microsoft's advice and do a little groundwork before installing and setting up SteadyState. Download the latest updates for your system from Windows Update, set a password for the main user, or "Administrator," account if there isn't one already, and make sure that other users only have access to the programs you want them to. To see if that's the case, create a new user account (Control Panel->User Accounts->Create a new account) or log into an account other than your own if you're already sharing a system. Peek into the Start menu, look around on the desktop, and if they've got access to stuff you don't want them playing around with, regardless of any protections, head back to your account and uninstall the program. Some programs give you an option to install them for "Just this user," so try re-installing the app with that option if possible.

Getting started

If you haven't already done so, download your copy of SteadyState. You'll likely be prompted to install or run a Windows Genuine Advantage tool or plug-in before downloading; go ahead and do so, install the program, then launch it from the Start menu. Close down the help window that pops up, and you're at SteadyState's main launcher:

From here you decide how you want to protect your system. Are you creating a long-term, super-locked-down account for adventurous young minds or accident-prone users? Are you trying out an app or system change that might throw everything into calamity? Let's look at your options.

Restrict a new or existing account

If your potential system-messers are going to be around for awhile, you'll want to hit "Add New Account" in the lower right-hand corner, or choose one already there. Give them a name (or just "Shared" if you want everyone to use the same locked-down, guest-type account), password, and icon. If you've set up separate hard drives or partitions on your system, you could also have that user's profile placed on one of them for easier portability (and fixing), but you'll likely just be hitting "Next." You'll arrive at the main account dashboard. Here's a few items you'll want to look into:
  • general.png"General" tab: The use timers are pretty helpful for parents who want to limit their young ones' monitor-zoning, but the real power-tweak here is the "Lock profile" button, which makes the account something like a public terminal—nothing a user changes in their user profile is saved once they log off.
  • windows_restrictions.pngWindows restrictions: Now we're getting to the serious stuff. There's a lot of buttons to toggle and explore, but the general High->Medium->Low category selectors are pretty good guidelines for getting started. In most cases, you'll want to block off access to the Registry editor, Task Manager, Control Panel, and (these are important) prevent them from locking the computer or changing their passwords. You can also block off access to specific drives from this screen.
  • feature_restrictions.pngFeature Restrictions: Here's where you lock down the internet, for both young minds and those who download and install whatever they see online. Most of the options are self-explanatory, but check out the top option—you can create a whitelist that this account can only see online (at least in Internet Explorer, and assuming you've locked down installation of other, trickier browsers). You'll want to remove the users' access to IE's settings, and there's a few tweaks for Microsoft Office as well.
  • Block Programs: Pretty straightforward—search for or click on an app on the left, then choose "Block" to remove access to it.
If you missed anything in any of those menus, you can always head back to them by clicking on the user account in SteadyState's main menu. security_settings.pngBefore you close out, though, click on "Set Computer Restrictions" and peruse the options there. Most important among them are the settings that remove access from the Administrator account, just in case your fellow users are good guessers or slightly devious. You've now got some seriously locked-down accounts, and you can import and export them from the main menu if you need this kind of setup on multiple systems. But you can take your protection a step further by creating a crash-proof hard drive.

Enable Disk Protection

From SteadyState's main menu, head to the "Disk Protection" section:

Close out any serious work you're doing—enabling the Disk Protection feature is going to bring up one of those inescapable restart prompts—and make sure you've got a little disk space to spare. Once you enable this feature, Windows creates a large cache file to store all the changes you or anyone else is making to the system, which it unceremoniously dumps at restart, or whenever you tell it to let go.

Let me stress this point: Disk Protection will reset everything you do while it's turned on: new Word documents, browser bookmarks, system settings, you name it. Turning it "Off," though, deletes the cache space and requires a restart, so switch it to "Retain all changes permanently" when you need to get things done.

Those are the basics of SteadyState, but if you need more help, SteadyState's home page has a video introduction and reference materials, and the program's own help menus are impressively detailed.

How do you use SteadyState to lock down your system? What settings and tweaks are indispensable for kids, virus-prone browsers, or other keyboard sharers? Tell us about it all in the comments.


Windows as it should be?


05 May 2009 by Steven Ambrose | Filed in Serious Software

On April 30 Microsoft unveiled the Windows 7 Release Candidate (RC) - the final Beta version of the upcoming release of its new operating system - to the developer community. Today (5 May) it goes live to the public. The initial Beta released in January has been polished, updated and improved. Microsoft have also included new functionality, namely XP mode, which uses Virtualisation to run older XP programmes natively in Windows 7, promising 100% XP compatibility. Will this release be the one to finally set aside Windows XP (and kill off Vista)? STEVEN AMBROSE blows his download data cap again, downloads all the bits, and puts Windows 7 RC to the test.

Windows 7 from the get go has shown that it is a seriously good replacement for the controversial Windows Vista operating system. As reviewed in Gadget in January, the initial beta was the best beta release that I have tried from Microsoft. most hardware and software worked from the start, and the operating system lost the treacly feel of Vista, on most hardware. Almost 5 months of hard work and millions of feedback messages later, Microsoft feel that they have almost got to the point where Windows 7 is ready for release. The significance of this is, with 90 % of the world’s computers running a version of Microsoft operating software, and many corporate users still running Windows XP, which is almost 9 years old, Microsoft  has to deliver.

I downloaded both the X86 32 bit version, for older computers, and the X64 version for newer 64 bit computers, and installed both on various machines. There is one major proviso; you cannot upgrade the original Beta to this version; you have to do a clean install. The downside of this is all the programmes and settings you had installed, will have to be redone. Microsoft has enforced this restriction as much of the base code and drivers have changed from the initial Beta release. On my main HP Laptop, the 64 bit install took 20 minutes to complete and, apart from some new backgrounds and a more polished look and feel, very little appeared to have changed.

New interfaces, new functionality

Once I began to reinstall all my various applications, the differences became apparent. All my hardware installed correctly first time, and no additional drivers were needed to get the computer up and running. All my programmes, including certain older accounting packages, installed with no fuss. Only the Nokia phone suite needed to be installed in compatibility mode for Vista, but the operating system itself recommended that I did this, and from that point there was no problem.

The overall feel of the operating system has improved substantially from the last release. It felt even snappier than before, and was markedly faster in loading the operating system and programmes. As this version, with some bug fixes, will in all probability be released as final, the increase in smoothness and speed was very significant, and most welcome. The overall use of memory has also decreased. I installed the 32 bit version on an old IBM ThinkPad T22, now 10 years old, with 768 Meg of Ram, and it was very good. The operating system found all the hardware, ran with no problem, and the memory usage never went over 60%, even with Office 2007 running.

In XP mode

One of the significant new features of this release is the XP mode, which is not included in the actual operating system, but can be downloaded from Microsoft and installed on all versions except Windows 7 Basic and Home. XP mode makes use of Microsoft Virtual PC seamlessly to run XP applications in Windows 7. All is not as simple as it seems, as there are a number of key prerequisites before you can use this feature. Firstly you need 2GB RAM, which is not a big deal as Vista needed 2GB RAM just to run effectively. You also need to have a recent Intel or AMD processor that has hardware virtualisation built into the processor. In my experience most processors that are 2 years old or newer, with the exception of Intel Celerons, have this feature.  The Beta includes a free version of XP service Pack 3. The instillation was simple and, once completed, a fully integrated version of XP will run in Windows 7. The integration was impressive with files being written and opened directly from your document folders. Once the initial load was completed, the XP system hibernates, rather than shuts down, so subsequent start ups of the operating system or applications loaded into the virtual XP machine are fast. Programmes installed into the Virtual XP machine appear on the Windows 7 menu bar, just like any other program, and open up in a seamless window without the XP desktop.

Fun new wallpaper

The integration and seamless nature of this virtualised XP compatibility solution is very good, and in most respects will allow custom or legacy software, that will not run natively on Windows 7, to run properly. For many large companies this will remove the need to downgrade new machines to XP, as all new machines will come with Windows7 preloaded when it is released. One area of concern is that the virtual XP is XP in all its glory, with all the issues around security remaining, and you will need to install and maintain antivirus software on the virtual machine, if you allow that machine to access the internet, which is the default setting.

Once again I am very impressed with the smoothness and responsiveness of Windows 7. The release candidate has further polished an already good operating system. The new interface is easier to get used to and more intuitive to use than the Vista interface and many people who did not upgrade from Windows XP will really have no problem adapting fairly quickly. The hardware requirements are officially the same as for Windows Vista, but in my experience on netbooks and very old laptops, Windows 7 works well – in fact in some respects even better that Windows XP, as all the latest drivers and settings, which had to be installed on XP, are part of the operating system.

Another new feature is that of remote media streaming over the internet. This is one feature we may not get to enjoy in South Africa until our data caps increase significantly. This new feature will allow you to access your music on your computer anywhere in the world via the Internet.

Microsoft have been very strategic with this version of Windows, they have allowed a very wide beta test release. This Release Candidate will remain valid until June 2010, which is a long time for trial software. Microsoft have also announced that the general release of the Release candidate will be available for an extended time, unlike the Beta 1 release,  and product keys will be freely available.

From my experience, Windows 7 will be the best operating system released by Microsoft to date. It will in all probability work with almost all hardware, new and old, and bring security and features right up to date. I would not hesitate to upgrade once the final version is released. If you are not comfortable upgrading your existing machine to pre-release software, try it out on a spare if you can. You will not be disappointed.

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