Using Adsense with WordPress

I first started using Google Adsense sometime in 2003 or 2004. But using Adsense with WordPress isn’t completely straightforward. So here’s an easy, concise guide to using Adsense with WordPress, including within your content.

I’m not a full-time blogger. I’m a computer security analyst by day, and blog part time. I went to journalism school in the ’90s in hopes of landing a job that doesn’t exist anymore. Some of what I learned about printing magazines applies to modern blogging. Some of it is subtly different. I don’t need to make a ton of money blogging, but I don’t blog to lose money either. There are an awful lot of bad people with bad motives making a lot of money online off sketchy or downright dishonest content. I’m writing this so the good guys can learn what the bad guys know, and make a little money too.

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Cleaning the Windows registry – and optimizing

Cleaning the Windows registry is a popular and controversial topic. Many pundits tell you never to do it. When I wrote a book about Windows back in 1999, I dedicated most of one chapter to the topic. But today the pundits have a point. Most registry cleaning utilities do much more harm than good. I don’t recommend you clean your registry, per se, but I do recommend you maintain it.

I don’t want to dismiss the concept completely out of hand. There’s a difference between a bad idea and a bad implementation. Registry cleaning and maintenance is a victim of bad implementation. But that doesn’t mean it was a bad idea. So let’s talk about how to get the benefit while minimizing the drawbacks.

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Adjust DD-WRT TX power

Adjust DD-WRT TX power

I had a DD-WRT router that was dropping a lot of packets. I got a lot of errors and that caused poor playback in Netflix and especially MLB.tv. It wasn’t a bandwidth issue. My wireless network connection was just too noisy. I had to adjust my DD-WRT TX power to fix it.

I probably adjusted it the opposite way you would expect. Read more

Bestselling SSDs

I have recommended a lot of SSDs over the years, and it seems like at least once a month someone asks me what SSDs I recommend right now.

So I’m going to present a list, and make an effort to keep it reasonably current. This list is somewhat curated; if there’s a drive that’s selling well but people are having a lousy experience with it, I’m leaving it off. I won’t name names but there is one of those this month. I may tweak the statistics with time, but for now I’m reporting capacity, expected price, where to buy it, and random write speed, which is what these drives are worst at. Any of these drives can open a 2-gig hibernation file in less than four seconds; it’s when they’re at their worst that you notice the difference between them, if there is any.

Let me get a disclaimer out of the way: Some of the links I present are affiliate links. You’re welcome to buy a drive anywhere you like, but if you buy from one of these links, I may make a small commission. That helps pay to keep this site up. Not everyone is up front about things like this, so I want to try to be open.

Let’s get on with the bestselling drives of December 2015.

Samsung 850 EVO series

Capacity: 128GB/256GB/512GB/1TB/2TB
Estimated Price: $68/$79/$153/$348/$728
Random write speed: 46.5 MB/s
Available at Amazon and Newegg

This drive gives a good combination of value and performance. Samsung has been pricing these aggressively, and it shows in the sales figures. With this series, it’s possible to get a reasonably high-performance drive at any capacity that an enthusiast is likely to be interested in. Samsung makes both its controllers and its memory, which gives them an advantage when it comes to tuning its drives for performance, and gives them some cost advantages as well.

Kingston V300 series

Capacity: 120/240/480/960 GB
Estimated Price: $45/$75/$145/$400
Random write speed: 28.4 MB/s
Available at Amazon and Newegg

Sometimes the 120GB version of this drive goes on sale for $40, and in that case, this is the biggest bargain on this list. These drives are budget drives in every way, but no conventional hard drive can touch them for performance, When these drives sell for the same price as the Sandisk SSD Plus, they’re not as compelling, but when they sell for 10% less, they seem to sell like crazy. The next time one of these goes on sale, I’m likely to get one.

Sandisk Ultra II series

Capacity: 120/240/480/960 GB
Estimated Price: $55/$80/$143/$248
Random write speed: 38.7 MB/s
Available at Amazon and Newegg

This is Sandisk’s middle of the road drive, which offers a good combination of value, performance, and capacity. While not as fast as Samsung’s drives, it’s not as expensive either. Sandisk makes its own memory chips in a joint venture with Toshiba, which gives them the same advantages as other first-tier manufacturers when it comes to picking out the best chips. Sandisk hasn’t been making SSDs as long as most of these other companies, so they’ve been fairly aggressive with pricing to get a piece of the market.

Samsung 850 Pro series

Capacity: 128GB/256GB/512GB/1TB/2TB
Estimated Price: $91/$134/$229/$434/$880
Random write speed: 47.6 MB/s
Available at Amazon and Newegg

At some capacities this drive is quite a bit more expensive than the 850 EVO, but that could just be a pricing anomaly. These drives are worth considering if you find a good price on them, but don’t pay a heavy premium for it over another performance drive. Under the best conditions it will outperform other drives, but under a more typical workload you don’t get much more speed than you would from an 850 EVO.

Crucial MX200 series

Capacity: 250GB/500GB/1TB
Price: $80/$150/$330
Random write speed: 39 MB/s
Available at Amazon and Newegg

This is Crucial’s higher performance drive, but when it comes to random writes, which is where you’re more likely to notice the performance, it’s no better than the BX100 or BX200. Crucial seems to be the king of middle-of-the-road drives right now, which isn’t necessarily a bad place to be.

Intel 535 series

Capacity: 120/180/240/360/480GB
Price: $60/$108/$110/$190/$190
Random write speed: 39 MB/s
Available at Amazon and Newegg

Intel makes an appearance on this list. Sometimes it seems hard to remember that Intel still makes SSDs, but this drive is a good performer at a competitive price, and Intel offers some capacities that nobody else is offering right now, although the pricing on the odd capacities like 180 and 360 GB can be even more odd. I’m not sure who would pay $190 for 360 GB when they can get 480 GB for about the same price.

Crucial BX100 series

Capacity: 120GB/250GB/500GB/1TB
Estimated Price: $65/$85/$165/$400
Random write speed: 40 MB/s
Available at Amazon and Newegg

This is Crucial’s budget drive. This line is being phased out, but there must still be some in the channel. If you can get a good price on one of these it’s well worth considering, especially for an upgrade for a machine with SATA2 where you won’t notice its limitations anyway. But make sure you don’t accidentally end up paying a premium for this drive over its newer and faster successor, the BX200.

Crucial BX200 series

Capacity: 240GB/480GB/1TB
Price: $65/$130/$300
Random write speed: 41 MB/s
Available at Amazon and Newegg

The BX200 is Crucial’s new budget drive. It offers better write speeds than the BX100 did, so if the price is close, this is the better drive to get.

Sandisk SSD Plus series

Capacity: 120 and 240 GB
Price: $45/$70
Random write speed: 34 MB/s
Available at Amazon and Newegg

This is Sandisk’s budget line, and is currently very aggressively priced. If you want a drive made by a company that makes its own chips, which isn’t a bad idea, this is the least expensive option on this list. Much like the Kingston drives, these are good drives for upgraders who want to extend a system’s usable lifespan without spending much. An enthusiast building a new, high-performance system may want to spend a little more for a higher-performing drive.

Samsung 850 EVO M.2 series

Capacity: 120/240/500 GB
Price: $70/$90/$180
Random write speed: 46.5 MB/s
Available at Amazon and Newegg

This drive features the M.2 connector, and as such, under the best conditions will outperform the other drives on this list. The caveat is that not all systems have an M.2 connector, so this drive isn’t an option for many upgraders. But if you have an M.2 connector, it’s a shame not to use it.

How to disassemble a Marx 490 locomotive

How to disassemble a Marx 490 locomotive

Disassembling a Marx 490 locomotive isn’t too difficult, but it’s very different from other Marx locomotives.

Once you take one apart, though, you’ll see why it was designed how it was. It was Marx’s lowest-cost locomotive, and it could be assembled without tools, so the labor costs were minimal.

For that matter you only need one tool to take it apart, and since there’s so little in it that can break–not even a headlight–you can find anything you would need to service it at the nearest hardware store or auto parts store.

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Replacing a Memopad HD7 screen

It probably was just a matter of time, but one of my sons dropped his Asus Memopad HD 7 and cracked the digitizer assembly. What we usually call the screen actually sits behind the breakable piece of glass, and more often than not, it’s the glass digitizer that breaks. I left it that way for a while, but once the screen cracks, the cracks tend to spread, and eventually the tablet will get to a point where it’s unresponsive.

Replacement digitizers are available on Ebay. Note the exact model number of your tablet (my kids have ME173Xs, so here’s an ME173X screen) because they aren’t all interchangeable. The part costs around $20. It took me about three hours to replace because it was my first one. If I did this every day I could probably do it in 30 minutes, and I’m guessing if I have to do another–ideally I won’t–it will take an hour or so.

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A guide for safe and private web browsing

Continuing in the theme I’ve been following for the last couple of days, here’s a guide to security and privacy with web browsers. Like the guide I linked to yesterday, I’m not sure I agree with it 100%–I think saying never use Internet Explorer is too absolute–but I do agree with the overwhelming majority of it, and if everyone did all of this instead of what they’re doing now, we’d be in a much better state.

And, on a somewhat related note, here’s a rundown of what Windows 10 changes in the way of privacy, and some recommendations, but here’s a hint: You’re going to want to type privacy into your Windows search bar, pull up everything related, and start shutting stuff off. Use your discretion, but chances are there will be several things. If nothing else, there are things that are appropriate for a Windows tablet that aren’t appropriate for a desktop PC.

Let’s get back to privacy and safety in general, whatever OS you’re running. Here are some highlights.

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Application whitelisting on Windows, even home editions

One of the very best things security measures you can take is application whitelisting–limiting the apps that are allowed to run on your computer.

The Australian Signals Directorate–the Australian counterpart to the NSA–says doing four things cuts security incidents by a whopping 85 percent. You probably do three of the things. The fourth is application whitelisting.

  • use application whitelisting to help prevent malicious software and unapproved programs from running
  • patch applications such as Java, PDF viewers, Flash, web browsers and Microsoft Office
  • patch operating system vulnerabilities
  • restrict administrative privileges to operating systems and applications based on user duties.

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Advantages of Windows 10

Advantages of Windows 10

Now that Windows 10 is out, the questions I see most frequently are why someone should upgrade, or what benefits they get if they upgrade, or if there indeed is such thing as advantages to Windows 10.

While I understand the skepticism, and I think most people probably should wait a few months before upgrading a Windows 7 machine that’s working well, there are a number of compelling things Windows 10 has to offer.

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