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It takes only one drink to get me drunk. The trouble is,
I can't remember if it's the thirteenth or the fourteenth. - George Burns



Due to the increased popularity of the scam, this will be our newsletter header for a while:  Sorry, but you are simply not important enough to have Microsoft, Adobe, Java or anyone else call you about your computer.  If you get a call that your computer is infected, compromised or otherwise needing attention, just hang up the phone!  More information here.  So with that out of the way...

In this newsletter

Microsoft did it again!

We sent the following information out mid-November:

We are still researching the issue, fix and just which models are affected, but it appears that HP All-in-one Touchscreen units running Windows 7* will stop booting and the monitor will continually blink just before the logon screen appears.  It is likely caused by certain recent Windows Updates and so far, we are finding only All-in-ones from HP affected.

Turn off automatic updates!  Go in to the Control Panel and open Windows Updates.  Upper left of the Windows Update window, click to Change Settings.  Change the Check for Update option (pull down box) to NEVER. 

We hope to have all the information in our next newsletter, but for now, turn off updates!

*As of now it seems to be only Windows 7 machines with the problem.

This problem has been confirmed locally on 5 different machines.  For each of those, we had to bring the system back a week or so using Windows Restore then shut off Windows Updates.  There were multiple updates that were uninstalled during this process, so we are unsure which one(s) may have caused the problem. 

Note: This update could certainly be a conflict with whatever update and hardware not necessarily limited to the Touchsmart, e.g., a video card, but so far we have seen it only on Touchsmart units.

All are working just fine after restoring back to a point before the updates (and turning them off). 

Because these are customer computers in use every day, we will not have the opportunity to experiment and figure out just what update caused the problem.

As of 11/18, there is no good information or a fix out there.  If you have one of these units (and there may be other models affected), probably best to just keep Windows Updates shut off and check the manufacturer's support site for your model.

Microsoft broke Outlook too

Apparently Microsoft update KB3097877 cause Outlook to crash out on some machines.  If you're experiencing sudden Outlook crashes, uninstall that update.  There is a newer update with the same number that will reinstall and is reported as stable.

Killing the Windows 10 Notification

If you are getting the constant reminder Windows 10 is available and would like that to go away, you need to uninstall Windows update KB3035583.

First, you need to shut off Windows Updates completely and reboot the computer.

When up and running again, on the left side of Programs and Features, click Installed Updates and look in the Windows group.  Nearer the top of the Windows section, you should see KB3035583.  Right click, uninstall and reboot the computer.

When up and running again, turn on Windows Updates, click to check for new updates then click to view available updates.   Locate KB3035583, right click and "hide" it.  

Updated (again), see our March '16 newsletter

But you may get it anyway!

According to this PCWorld article...

Microsoft has previously confirmed that it automatically downloads Windows 10 installation files without users’ permission, occupying as much as 6GB of storage space in a hidden folder.

If you are on a limited per month service such as a cell connection, this will probably gobble up your entire month's allocation in just a day or two!  (You certainly want to shut off Windows Updates completely.)

And if you have a small hard drive such as a solid state drive, this 6GB of used up space may be critical.  You can probably free up some disk space by deleting the install files found in the hidden/system folder: C:\$Windows.~BT, (may be C:\Windows\$Windows.~BT) but many articles are indicating this will just repopulate again.

It's also unclear if hiding update KB3035583 would stop the automatic download.

Or maybe not...

However, this freeware will apparently abort and permanently stop the Windows 10 upgrade.  We have read through the article and looked at the freeware.  It's fairly straight forward and easy to use, but with disclaimers: We have not used the software, only downloaded and scanned it with our Symantec AV - it is safe (11/13)...

UPDATE 12/18!

See our January '16 newsletter

Windows 10 information

Our Windows 10 information was updated with this:

Adobe Standard quits

If you have an older Adobe "Standard" (not the Reader), you may find it crashes out and with no error message.  Likely a Windows 10 conflict issue and while there is an update available from Adobe, it is not free. 

As of now, we have not found a fix for this, although running as an Administrator seems to work most (but not all) of the time.

However, since Microsoft Office Word, Excel, etc., can open and save documents PDF files, you can probably get by without Adobe Standard by uninstalling it, then simply use Adobe Reader to view PDFs.  Use Microsoft Office to create and edit them.

Encryption viruses

They are still around and nasty as ever.  The data on an infected computer will be completely useless unless you pay a ransom and within a certain number of days after the infection.  Also, many of these viruses are device aware so any external drive, flash/thumb drives connected may also become encrypted and infected.  More on this evolving threat in this PCWorld article.

Even with a good antivirus, many of these viruses may do real damage before the antiviruses can stop them.

If you recall, the Stuxnet virus that sabotaged Iran’s nuclear program was believed to have been delivered via a shared flash/thumb drive.  Be sure to scan shared devices for viruses and as always... 

Back up often and to multiple media.

Uninstalling McAfee

We recently restored a computer to factory condition (due to a Windows corruption) and during the process, the trial version of McAfee was reinstalled.  The customer was previously under Symantec protection so we needed to uninstall McAfee before reinstalling Symantec. 

But after uninstalling McAfee we found two pieces of it still running, along with a McAfee scheduled task!

If you uninstall an application, especially an "always on" app like an antivirus, it's probably a good idea to look in the msconfig utility (after rebooting) to see if parts of it still remain.  If so, uncheck those items.  Also look in the Task Scheduler for any leftovers and delete those also.

If McAfee (or others) won't uninstall, see our September '09 newsletter.

WD Cloud storage device

We have a WD Cloud EX4 storage unit.  While the name indicates "cloud" storage, that option can be turned off, but we digress. 

For some time, we have had issues using a batch file and Xcopy to back up to/from the device. 

The backup process would stall/hang, seemingly forever unless we manually refreshed the network via the Windows File Explorer, but then, so much for automation. 

WD support has been of no help on the subject and none of the "fixes" in various articles we found worked.

WD Cloud

After a lot of trial and error, we found these two settings that seem to have resolved the problem:

Dell laptop misconfigured certificate - danger

The mistake made by Lenovo not all that long ago was repeated by Dell, where a "security certificate" could be used by hackers.  The specific laptop models were not immediately available.

According to this article, you can simply locate (C:\Programs and Files\Dell\...) and delete the following file:  Dell.Foundation.Agent.Plugins.eDell.dll

But it's really a bit more involved, so Dell has issued a removal patch available here:
https://dellupdater.dell.com/Downloads/APP009/eDellRootCertFix.exe

That is a direct link, so save the file to your Desktop or downloads folder, then run/open it.  If your computer is unaffected, running this patch simply indicates that it is not needed, but if you computer is affected, the patch should continue to do some work and perhaps finish with further instructions.

Quickies

Really interesting site - techies unite!  http://phys.org/

Java!

The hot beverage!  We are picky about coffee and apparently our dislike of most is well founded.  Interesting article on coffee.

Windows XP soon to be Internet dead

Perhaps by the end of this year but certainly sometime in 2016, Windows XP machines may be unable to view many common web sites.  According to this ZDNet article, older computers will likely be unable to log on to encrypted sites, web based email and so on, because most sites will be using new encryption certificates not available to XP.

Folder sharing information

If you want to share files and folders among the computers on your network, see this article.

Want a new Windows 7 computer?

You now have less than a year to get them.  Microsoft has officially issued a one year notice to PC manufacturers.

Have an Android phone?

You may want to read this ZDNet article
Devices on AT&T and Verizon networks are vulnerable to "loss of privacy, incorrect billing, and data spoofing."

EMET Protection

If you have the older EMET 4.x installed, you may have problems with Microsoft Office and other applications.  Simply uninstall EMET and if you want that extra protection, install the latest version from Microsoft. 
http://www.microsoft.com/emet

Use Gmail?  This may be useful

Gmail keyboard shortcuts, quick links, smart labels and more.

Web site addresses

Always be careful (and don't assume) when typing web addresses!  Example: 
While http://annandale.k12.mn.us  or  www.annandale.k12.mn.us are fine, adding .com to the end would take you to an infected web site!

When searching for an address or web site, be sure to look at the destination.

search ok

Opinion

Keystone pipeline

Struck down by the administration as a "climate change" issue.  Really?  We'd bet all that crude will be used anyway but now shipped by (fuel burning) rail and trucks!

Leaving you with

You know the honeymoon is over when he phones to say he'll be late for dinner and she's already left a note saying it's in the refrigerator.

and From Al Lowe

An attractive young woman, with an extraordinary personality and excellent character, had a condition that made her lips crack, so that the slightest movement caused great pain. Her physician prescribed a cream that, while not a cure, greatly relieved her pain. Although she was instructed to use it once per day, she found herself using it more and more and soon exhausted her supply. She returned to the doctor for a refill. His receptionist announced her turn to the doctor this way: "It's that super gal with fragile lips expecting extra doses!"


Remember...

SCAM:  A "support" person asks you to allow them to take over your computer and clean it up.   
Just hang up!
  See our October '13 newsletter for a bit more on this scam...

and

Thanks for all the help over these years, Jeff...

In case we don't get a January 2016 newsletter out, have a Happy and hopefully prosperous New Year!