On Monday, March 13 at approximately 10:30 AM CST, I will be appearing on KFUO Radio’s Faith and Family program to discuss home computer security with host Andy Bates. One of the questions he’s planning to ask: How can I know how secure my home computer is? Or, to put his question another way, how safe is my computer from hackers?
I’m going to use this space to elaborate ahead of time on some of the things we are going to talk about. We could talk for an hour on any of the questions he’s going to ask, and he gave me three questions and 25 minutes. This is my workaround.
When I first installed it, I thought it was pretty pointless to try to optimize Windows 10. Of course, I installed it from scratch on a computer with an SSD and 16 gigs of RAM. Then I upgraded a couple of computers from Windows 7 to Windows 10, and I started to see why some people might not like Windows 10 all that much.
Upgraded systems almost always run slow, but I’d forgotten how much slower. And while you didn’t have to do much to Windows 7 to make it fast–that’s one reason people liked it–I find some Windows 10 optimization seems to be necessary. Read more
One of the new features of Windows 10 is better file compression, which was intended to help Windows fit better in low-resource devices like tablets. But it’s helpful on computers with SSDs too. But for whatever reason that option doesn’t show up on mine.
But you can still compress your system files even if the Disk Cleanup utility (which you can also launch from the Free up disk space by deleting unnecessary files control panel) doesn’t show the Compress system files option.
Sometimes you need to add a generic printer in Windows 10.
Windows 10 makes the setup of newer hardware pretty automatic, but if you have a legacy or specialized printer that has to be set up as a generic printer in Windows, the process isn’t intuitive. Here’s how to set it up.
I got lots of random errors installing Office 2013 when I went to do it, including error code 112-4 and error code 0-4, and some other install errors mostly ending in 4 that aren’t documented on Microsoft’s web site. Although previously undocumented, these errors are fixable. Read more
From time to time I have to pull up Programs and Features (formerly known as Add and Remove Programs in obsolete versions of Windows), but I’m not an administrator. Not normally, at least. When I need to do so, I run cmd.exe using my administrative ID–I created a shortcut and pinned it to my Start Menu so I can right-click cmd.exe and select “Run As”–and then, from the command prompt, I type appwiz.cpl. Then I can make all the changes I need to make, without the hazards associated with logging in as an administrator and running everything with admin rights.
Sometimes you have to manually add a TCP/IP printer in Windows 10. For example, I have an older HP Laserjet 4100 with a Jetdirect card in it that I use to print from all of my PCs over my local area network (LAN). Getting Windows 10 to print to it isn’t difficult but it’s hardly intuitive.
If you have your printer already set up but just need to change its IP address, I covered that here. If you want to share a locally attached printer with other computers on your network, you can do that too.
The Enerlites Top Greener HOSS is an occupancy sensor switch without ground wire requirements, and it’s pretty cheap too, at $12. A Lutron switch costs almost twice as much.
But the HOSS does come with some compromises. The HOSS does require a neutral (white) wire. But most switch boxes will have the whites in there and accessible, so that’s not a big deal. It’s also a bit trickier to wire than a Lutron, and it doesn’t look as nice.
That said, it’s nice to have an option for older houses that may not have a ground connection available. People in older houses need energy savings too. Read more
In case you haven’t heard, Microsoft released an emergency patch yesterday afternoon for the bad Internet Explorer bug that prompted the Department of Homeland Security to tell everyone not to use IE until further notice. That was no surprise, given the amount of publicity behind this bug.
What was a surprise was that they went ahead and released the patch for Windows XP as well. So, unless something really weird happens, the very last patch for Windows XP is MS14-021, issued 1 May 2014.
If you run Windows and your PC didn’t tell you this morning it applied updates automatically, go to Automatic Updates in Control Panel and download the fix.
Note: I wrote this almost a year ago. It wasn’t good enough to publish then, I thought. This week I’m slammed, and it’s better than anything I can write this week, so, it’s time to release it. -Dave
As my regulars will be aware, for the past few weeks I’ve been getting lots of phone calls from “Peggy” from “Computer Maintenance Department.” What I’ve found during these phone calls is that debating with them does no good, and saying that your computer is crazy fast gets them to hang up on you, but they’ll call back again in a few days anyway.
Last week, I had lunch with a group of future coworkers–I’ll be joining them once my background check results come in–and I mentioned these phone calls. The guy sitting across the table from me said he wants their malware, so he can reverse-engineer it. So I said I would cooperate the next time I got a phone call. Read more