Tag Archives: tips

Remove the Windows 10 upgrade popup, updated

If you’re using Windows 7 or 8.1, and you’re sick of being nagged by Microsoft’s pop-up to upgrade to Windows 10, go to the Ultimate Outsider website and download and install their GWX Control Panel. It’s received rave reviews. Cost: gratis. Here’s the full description.

Microsoft Strikes Again – How to NOT Upgrade to Windows 10

 

New and Improved Method

Update, April 3, 2016: Steve Gibson, founder of GRC (Gibson Research Corp), has written a great little freeware utility that also blocks upgrades to Windows 10. Steve writes most of his code in assembler, so his utilities are tiny. He calls this newest utility Never10. He’s created a page dedicated to Never10, where you may download it for free. It’s only 81 kilobyes in size and doesn’t require installation on your Windows PC.  You need just run it once to turn off upgrades to Windows 10, and run it again to allow upgrades to Windows 10. Short and sweet, it’s just what the doctor ordered.

Advertisements

Scam the phone scammers

In this video, listen to the Jolly Roger Telephone robot waste telemarketers’ time.

Do you receive frequent annoying telemarketing calls? Here’s How to send YOUR telemarketers to this robot. It’s designed to keep the telemarketers on line as long as possible, to waste their time.

This clip is just one of many from Jolly Roger Telephone, which is the creation of Roger Anderson. This robot comes close to passing the Turing test. I think that it’s built on an Asterisk phone server (which is Linux-based).

Blondie video: Hanging on the Telephone

WordPress.com vs WordPress.org

When I first investigated WordPress, I was confused by the differences and similarities between WordPress.com and WordPress.org.  If you’re in the same boat, Sanj Sahayam’s article, 4 Reasons You Should Never Use WordPress.com (And 4 Reasons You Should) clearly explains the tradeoffs between the two platforms.

By the way, this blog is currently hosted by WordPress.com.  I also host some clients’ websites using WordPress on Linux servers.  WordPress is remarkably versatile.

One-man scan

Tom Tryniski has an unusual hobby. Since 1999, he’s been scanning in old newspapers, converting the scanned images to ASCII text, and indexing that text. According to Wikipedia, “As of September 2014, the site has over 28 million newspaper pages.” Tom has done this all by himself.

Tom’s website home page opens with a brief animated movie (a website design no-no), but his site’s wealth of data is worth the delay. Its search function is excellent. I was able to quickly find decades-old information about old friends from New York state.

The website: fultonhistory.com

Visit my website: http://russbellew.com
© Russ Bellew · Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA · phone 954 873-4695

Listen to articles on your Android phone

When you want to read an article but don’t have time to sit down and read every word, have your phone’s @Voice Aloud Reader text-to-voice app read the article aloud to you.

@Voice app iconFirst, display the article on your phone (probably in a web browser). Press the Share button or icon, and choose the @Voice Aloud Reader. Allow a few seconds for the @Voice Aloud Reader app to start, load the article’s text, and begin reading.

On my Android 4.2.2 phone, the female voice is remarkably clear. It tends toward a monotone, and occasionally messes up (especially abbreviations), but is quite listenable. Within the @Voice Aloud Reader app, you can pause, rewind, etc., the reader.

Just plug in your earbuds, start up the @Voice Aloud Reader, and go!

Visit my website: http://russbellew.com
© Russ Bellew · Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA · phone 954 873-4695

Liberate storage on Samsung SGH-T399 phone

I discovered a method of freeing storage space on my Samsung SGH-T399 Android phone. Podcasts had stopped streaming, probably because the phone had run out of free storage space for caching. How could I create free storage space? I learned that the hidden /mnt/sdcard/.face folder had grown to 2.65 gigabytes and contained 67,000 files(!). I gambled that the facial recognition files contained there were nonessential.

I deleted the /mnt/sdcard/.face folder, then created a new empty /mnt/sdcard/.face folder. Suddenly the phone had 2.65 GB of free storage. Yesssss!

I used a terrific Android app, ES File Explorer, to discover this bloated folder, delete it, and create a new empty one. Its SD Card Analyst tool displays folders sorted in descending order by size. The .face folder was at the top of the list.

Note that the folder named sdcard isn’t actually the physical sdcard. For some reason, Samsung’s Android file system calls this phone’s internal storage folder /mnt/sdcard. The physical sdcard is named /mnt/extSdCard.

screenshot by xda-developers

Visit my website: http://russbellew.com
© Russ Bellew · Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA · phone 954 873-4695

A quick fix for Android net connect problems

Airplane Mode screenshotOccasionally my Samsung Insight II phone (SGH-T679 running Android Gingerbread 2.3.6) quits communicating via IP with Internet hosts. Often, a wireless connection to a T-Mobile tower exists but there’s just no IP communication. Also, occasionally my phone insists that it can only establish a (low speed, perhaps 50 kbps) EDGE wireless connection to the tower; it refuses to connect at higher speeds (such as UMTS, HSDPA, or LTE).

A simple fix — short of shutting down and restarting the phone or system troubleshooting — is to temporarily place the phone in Airplane Mode (which shuts down its wireless radio transceivers) and then turn off its Airplane Mode (which starts its wireless radio transceivers). Your phone should connect to the cell site with the strongest signal — which may be different than the site that it was connected to before. Nine times out of ten this works for me.

Visit my website: http://russbellew.com
© Russ Bellew · Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA · phone 954 873-4695

The tyranny of CryptoLocker has ended, or at least paused.

Ding dong the witch is dead:

FireEye and Fox-IT have partnered to provide free keys designed to unlock systems infected by CryptoLocker.

CryptoLocker screenshotIf you have been infected by the CryptoLocker ransomware and all your files have been encrypted without your consent, go to FireEye and Fox-IT’s decryptcryptolocker website post haste. These noble folks seem to have located the CryptoLocker servers that store the unique private keys (called “master decryption keys”) for infected systems and will allow you to decrypt your encrypted files . . . gratis!

I warned about CryptoLocker when it first appeared in the fall of 2013. It is a very malicious piece of work.

I applaud FireEye and Fox-IT. I’m not sure how they were able to locate the CryptoLocker servers. (New randomly-named servers were created every day.) Also, it seems that CryptoLocker’s claim that the private keys would be destroyed after several days wasn’t true, since FireEye and Fox-IT appear to have found the keys intact on one or more CryptoLocker servers. In any case, FireEye and Fox-IT deserve a big round of applause.

The Register published a good article about decryptolocker and its background. According to their article, my celebration may be premature:

Hopes that this takedown would kill off CryptoLocker have been dashed. CryptoLocker has evolved and once again started to compromise user devices, FireEye warns.

Lions and tigers and bears! Oh my!

Visit my website: http://russbellew.com
© Russ Bellew · Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA · phone 954 873-4695

Prevent Java updates from installing annoying toolbars

As of Java 7 update 67, administrators may request that future Java updates not install useless annoying browser toolbars (such as the Ask toolbar).

Java adware disableBy default, Oracle allows Java updates to install this junk. You must explicitly opt out:

  • Within Windows Control Panel, click on the Java applet.
  • Click on the Advanced tab.
  • Scroll down to the bottom of the sheet.
  • Beneath the Miscellaneous heading you’ll see “Suppress sponsor offers when installing or updating Java”.
  • Click on its check box. (By default, it will be unchecked.)
  • Click the Apply button.
  • Click the OK button.

You’re done.

I applaud Oracle for giving us this option. I’d give them a standing ovation if they’d add this junky Ask toolbar only if we opted in.

Visit my website: http://russbellew.com
© Russ Bellew · Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA · phone 954 873-4695

Lightweight oil source

I have a number of small motors whose bearings need occasional lubrication. Paper shredders, impact printers, and tape libraries contain mechanisms that require lubrication with a light oil. Hunter original ceiling fans, assorted locks, hinges, and small electric motors require SAE 10W straight weight, non-detergent oil. Good luck finding it locally! Home Depot, Lowes, and Sears stores have driven out the small hardware stores that used to carry this stuff.

The popular “3-In-One” brand oil in tbe red, black, and white squeeze can is about 20W, but it contains detergent, which is bad news in most applications in which you can’t flush, filter, or drain the old oil with the dirt particles held in suspension. Those particles will abrade bearing surfaces in simple machines.

squeeze oil bottleI found exactly what I needed on Amazon. It’s La-Co 4 ounce Zoom spout oiler 79704G. It contains four ounces of pure 10W non-detergent oil. It’s packaged in an easy to use squeeze bottle with a tiny extendable tube for precise application. Cost is about $4.00. It’s sold by Pandora’s OEM Appliance Parts. It was delivered to my door within a couple days of my order.

Visit my website: http://russbellew.com
© Russ Bellew · Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA · phone 954 873-4695

Disguise your smartphone’s phone number.

Burner screenshot on smartphoneWhile watching a Youtube video clip about the recovery of a stolen bicycle, I learned about Burner, a smartphone app that allows a smartphone user to temporarily mask his or her phone number with an alias phone number. It’s available for iPhones, but not yet for Android phones. (originally published on 31 December 2012. 9 July 2014: Burner is now available for Android phones, as well as IOS.)

Theft recovery seems like a perfect use for telephone anonymity. The victim, who’s a Portland, Oregon resident, responded to a Seattle Craigslist for sale ad for what seemed to be his stolen bike. He used Burner to make his phone calls appear to originate in Seattle.

Bike theft is a low-risk occupation. Watch a NYC resident steal bikes in public view.

Visit my website: http://russbellew.com
© Russ Bellew · Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA · phone 954 873-4695

Use Glympse.com to share your location in real time

Are you ever late for appointments? When traveling to rendezvous with someone, you may now use Glympse.com to keep your friend or business contact apprised of your geographical progress. Portable apps for IOS, Android, and Windows Phone smartphones are available.

Glymse dot com

Your friend / business contact (and no one else) will be able to track you from any Internet-connected web browser as you approach your rendezvous point. You can also periodically securely share your location via email, SMS text messaging, Facebook, or Twitter.

Visit my website: http://russbellew.com
© Russ Bellew · Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA · phone 954 873-4695

Samsung SGH-T679 not charging

Occasionally, for no apparent reason, my Android phone refuses to accept a battery charge. (originally published 15 February 2014)

Samsung Exhibit II SGH-T679 phoneHere’s the only way I’ve found to fix this problem on my Samsung Insight II SGH-T679 with Android 2.3.6 Gingerbread phone:

  1. Remove charger
  2. Turn off phone
  3. Remove battery
  4. Remove SIM card
  5. Remove SD card
  6. Wait at least 3 minutes. (I’ve had to wait as long as 60 minutes.)
  7. Replace SD card
  8. Replace SIM card
  9. Replace battery
  10. Turn on phone
  11. Plug in charger

This reset procedure works for me. It may or may not work for you. (8 Oct 2014) It also works for my new SGH-T399 phone.


Update

7 August 2014Samsung charger This may or may not be a coincidence, but I’ve found that since abandoning third-party battery chargers and returning to a Samsung manufactured charger, my phone’s battery behaves better, without loss of charging function.

I’ve also stopped buying third-party batteries. They’ve been short-lived. I found what seems to be a genuine Samsung battery on Amazon. The combination of genuine Samsung battery and Samsung battery charger seems to provide both longer battery discharge times and better charging behavior.

I’ve not needed to resort to the charging system reset procedure since installing the genuine Samsung battery and using the genuine Samsung charger.

Extra credit article: How to prolong lithium based batteries

Also see: Repair and prevent battery charging problems on GSM phones.

Visit my website: http://russbellew.com
© Russ Bellew · Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA · phone 954 873-4695

Cloning Ubuntu drives

Last week I cloned a Xubuntu 12.04 system disk from an old IDE drive to a brand new drive. Acronis True Image reported that the process succeeded, but Xubuntu refused to boot from the new drive — the PC simply restarted without booting Xubuntu. I uttered a sound that you don’t want to hear from the guy who’s upgrading your system: “Uh-oh.”

Why it won’t boot
I learned in https://help.ubuntu.com/community/UsingUUID that Ubuntu relies upon disks’ uuid (Universally Unique Identity) numbers. Apparently Ubuntu first loads the Grub start menu. Grub reads /boot/grub/menu.lst, which uses the disk’s uuid number to define the disk on which the operating system to be booted is stored. Since the new disk’s uuid differs from the old disk’s uuid, we must edit /boot/grub/menu.lst.

A quick fix
Eventually I found a simple alternative to manual editing. The Lubuntu-based open-source Boot Repair CD repaired the problem with just one click. It takes a while to load but it’s a great little tool that claims to repair Windows boot problems as well. I’ve added it to my toolbox.

Visit my website: http://russbellew.com
© Russ Bellew · Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA · phone 954 873-4695

Xubuntu on Dell Dimension 4500

Last weekend a customer presented me with what he thought was a five-year old Dell Optiplex. It was actually a twelve year old Dimension 4500 with Microsoft Windows XP Home and was agonizingly slow. In any case, XP was rapidly approaching its end of life.

Dell Dimension 4500I feared that this PC was also at its end of life. Dell.com reported that it had shipped in 2002(!), and its hard drive SMART indicated over 50,000 power-on hours. Still, its CPU was a 2 GHz Pentium 4, so I decided to beat this dying horse a bit more before putting it out to pasture.

This desktop PC contained two 512 MB DDR memory modules. Both Dell and Crucial.com advised that this motherboard couldn’t address more than 1 GB of memory. Google revealed that in fact this motherboard could accept two 1 GB DDR memory modules, so I installed two 1 GB DDR memory modules, for a total of 2 GB. The BIOS reported 2048 MB total memory. Yesss!

image

Unfortunately the PC wouldn’t boot from a Xubuntu 12.04 live DVD. No wonder: this PC contained a CD-ROM drive, not a DVD drive. It also could not boot from a USB drive.

No problem. I booted from a Ubuntu minimal install CD, installed it, and used the sudo get-apk install xubuntu-desktop command to download hundreds of megabytes and install Xubuntu 13.10. (I don’t know how — or if it’s possible — to install anything but the newest release with the get-apk command.) It ran, but the display would occasionally blank and log me off. Not good.

I wanted to try Xubuntu 12.04, not 13.10, but how could I do this on a PC with only a CD-ROM — not a DVD — drive? I found a clever program called plop boot manager that installs on a boot CD-ROM, which in turn passes control to a boot thumbdrive in a USB connector. I created a plop CD-ROM and a Xubuntu 12.04 boot thumbdrive. It worked! Xubuntu 12.04 runs nicely on this old Dimension 4500.

Now I just need to replace its 50,000 hour hard drive. Maybe it’ll run for another twelve years.

Visit my website: http://russbellew.com
© Russ Bellew · Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA · phone 954 873-4695