Monthly Archives: November 2016


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Windows 10 Upgrade Security Risk!

A flaw has been discovered whereby non-administrative users can gain system-level access during certain OS version upgrades.




Sami Laiho (Microsoft trainer, speaker and MVP) has discovered a bug in the Windows 10 OS that could give attackers privileged access to a system. This seems to be only during a feature update. Much like when you install Windows, during a feature update installation, you can press SHIFT-F10 to get to a command prompt. During an upgrade, Microsoft disables the BitLocker encryption system, leaving open access to the hard drive. The bottom line here is that a non-admin user could potentially gain System-user access to the hard drive, and that’s not good.

The exploit becomes possible under the following conditions:

  • Upgrading from Windows 10 RTM to the November Update (1511) or Anniversary Update (1607).
  • Upgrading from any build to a newer Insider Build, tested up to end of October 2016.

Attack scenarios could be:

  • An internal threat who wants admin access just has to wait for the next upgrade, or convince someone that he should be a Windows Insider.
  • An external threat with access to the computer waits for it to start an upgrade to get into the system.

System Center Configuration Manager can block this for enterprises, but for unmanaged networks, Laiho offers the following advice:

  • Don’t allow unattended upgrades.
  • Keep very tight watch on Windows Insiders.
  • Controversially: stick to the Long Term Servicing Branch version of Windows 10 for now.

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    Basic tips that save time (and not everyone knows!)

    There are some basic computer and gadget fundamentals that we take for granted, and expect everyone to just know.

    That’s not always the case. Below are some tid-bits of information to help those of us who are technologically challenged…

    * You can double-click a word to highlight it in any document, e-mail or Web page.

    * When you get an e-mail message from eBay or your bank, claiming that you have an account problem or a question from a buyer, it’s probably a “phishing scam” intended to trick you into typing your password. Don’t click the link in the message. If in doubt, go into your browser and type “” (or whatever) manually.

    * Nobody, but nobody, is going to give you half of $80 million to help them liberate the funds of a deceased millionaire…from Nigeria or anywhere else.

    * You can hide all windows, revealing only what’s on the computer desktop, with one keystroke: hit the Windows key and “D” simultaneously in Windows, or press F11 on Macs (on recent Mac laptops, Command+F3; Command is the key with the cloverleaf logo). That’s great when you want examine or delete something you’ve just downloaded to the desktop, for example. Press the keystroke again to return to what you were doing.

    * You can enlarge the text on any Web page. In Windows, press Ctrl and the plus or minus keys (for bigger or smaller fonts); on the Mac, it’s the Command key and plus or minus.

    * You can also enlarge the entire Web page or document by pressing the Control key as you turn the wheel on top of your mouse. On the Mac, this enlarges the entire screen image.

    * The number of megapixels does not determine a camera’s picture quality; that’s a marketing myth. The sensor size is far more important. (Use Google to find it. For example, search for “sensor size Nikon D90.”)

    * On most cellphones, press the Send key to open up a list of recent calls. Instead of manually dialing, you can return a call by highlighting one of these calls and pressing Send again.

    * When someone sends you some shocking e-mail and suggests that you pass it on, don’t. At least not until you’ve first confirmed its truth at, the Internet’s authority on e-mailed myths. This includes get-rich schemes, Microsoft/AOL cash giveaways, and–especially lately–nutty scare-tactic messages about our Presidential candidates.

    * You can tap the Space bar to scroll down on a Web page one screenful. Add the Shift key to scroll back up.

    * When you’re filling in the boxes on a Web page (like City, State, Zip), you can press the Tab key to jump from box to box, rather than clicking. Add the Shift key to jump through the boxes backwards.

    * You can adjust the size and position of any window on your computer. Drag the top strip to move it; drag the lower-right corner (Mac) or any edge (Windows) to resize it.

    * Forcing the camera’s flash to go off prevents silhouetted, too-dark faces when you’re outdoors.

    * When you’re searching for something on the Web using, say, Google, put quotes around phrases that must be searched together. For example, if you put quotes around “electric curtains,” Google won’t waste your time finding one set of Web pages containing the word “electric” and another set containing the word “curtains.”

    * You can use Google to do math for you. Just type the equation, like 23*7+15/3=, and hit Enter.

    * Oh, yeah: on the computer, * means “times” and / means “divided by.”

    * If you can’t find some obvious command, like Delete in a photo program, try clicking using the right-side mouse button. (On the Mac, you can Control-click instead.)

    * Google is also a units-of-measurement and currency converter. Type “teaspoons in 1.3 gallons,” for example, or “euros in 17 dollars.” Click Search to see the answer.

    * You can open the Start menu by tapping the key with the Windows logo on it.

    * You can switch from one open program to the next by pressing Alt+Tab (Windows) or Command-Tab (Mac).

    * You generally can’t send someone more than a couple of full-size digital photos as an e-mail attachment; those files are too big, and they’ll bounce back to you. (Instead, use iPhoto or Picasa–photo-organizing programs that can automatically scale down photos in the process of e-mailing them.)

    * Whatever technology you buy today will be obsolete soon, but you can avoid heartache by learning the cycles. New iPods come out every September. New digital cameras come out in February and October.

    * Just putting something into the Trash or the Recycle Bin doesn’t actually delete it. You then have to *empty* the Trash or Recycle Bin. (Once a year, I hear about somebody whose hard drive is full, despite having practically no files. It’s because over the years, they’ve put 79 gigabytes’ worth of stuff in the Recycle Bin and never emptied it.)

    * You don’t have to type “http://www” into your Web browser. Just type the remainder: “” or “,” for example. (In the Safari browser, you can even leave off the “.com” part.)

    * On the iPhone, hit the Space bar twice at the end of a sentence. You get a period, a space, and a capitalized letter at the beginning of the next word.

    * Come up with an automated backup system for your computer. There’s no misery quite like the sick feeling of having lost chunks of your life because you didn’t have a safety copy.
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    Windows 10 Tips and Tricks

    Let’s face it, Windows 8 was……not so appealing. The user interface was tricky to navigate, and if you didn’t have a touch screen, it was even more time consuming to move around the OS.

    8.1 was an improvement, with the return of a more familiar start menu, but it still didn’t quite cut it.

    Enter Windows 10, and the anniversary update which made all the difference.

    Windows 10 took the best elements from Windows 8 and Windows 7, and made for a great overall user experience.

    So, now that Windows 10 is running on millions of computers around the globe, I thought I would share some tweaks, tips and tricks to make your experience that bit more enjoyable.


    By setting up GodMode, you get a special set of menu options, grouping a bucket load of settings together in one location. To enable GodMode, you need to create a folder on your root drive (usually C:\>) and name it “GodMode.{ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C-99712043E01C}”  

    This will create an icon that, when you open it, will give you and advanced control panel interface.


    Shop with Edge

    This particular tip is aimed more at those of you living in the U-S-of-A.


    After installing the Windows 10 Anniversary Update, it’s a good idea to make Microsoft’s Edge your default browser—even if it’s just for online shopping.

    That’s because if you open a site like or in Edge, Microsoft’s digital assistant, Cortana, will often appear and offer to use one of several coupons it found automatically. Now that really is helpful.

    Windows Activation

    Your windows key can now be linked to your Microsoft account, instead of directly to your hardware, meaning upgrades are a lot easier, and you don’t need to contact Microsoft every time you reload.


    This option can be found under SETTINGS > UPDATE & SECURITY > ACTIVATION

    Save Power on a Laptop

    If you are using a laptop, Windows 10 has the capability to control how processes and background apps run, in order to preserve battery life.


    To enable this feature, click START > SETTINGS > SYSTEM > BATTERY SAVER

    Stop the Irritating Office ads


    One really annyoing thing on Windows 10 is the fact that every now and then, a pop-up ad shows up, asking you to “Get Office“. Even with Office installed, it still pops up.

    Fortunately, it’s easy to stop Windows 10’s annoying Microsoft Office ads.

    These pop-up ads come from Windows 10’s “Get Office” app, which is installed by default. If you uninstall the app, you will get rid of the ads.

    If, for whatever reason, you want to keep the app, you can still stop the pop-upsby going to Settings > System > Notifications & actions and disable notifications from Get Office.

    The exact same procedure works for silencing the Get Skype app ads as well.

    Obey Your Every Command

    By default, Cortana does not listen for you every command. In order to rectify this, you need to open Cortana (click the search field in the taskbar and select the Notebook icon in the left-side options pane.)


    Select Settings from the list, then simply enable the Let Cortana respond when you say “Hey Cortana” option. You’ll need an active microphone for this to work, of course.

    Fresh Installation

    It’s always nice to have a clean install once in a while. De-clutter your hard drive and start from scratch.

    If you look under SETTINGS > UPDATE & SECURITY > RECOVERY, you’ll find a new option under MORE RECOVERY OPTIONS, called “Learn how to start fresh with a clean installation of Windows” 

    Clicking this link will take you to an online how-to, where you can download a tool that will assist you with a clean install.


    Just be sure to back up your data first. You have been warned…

    Windows Updates


    Being able to schedule installation times is a welcome option, but the fact that you cannot refuse patches is a bit of a pain. If you are running Windows 10 Pro, you can at least can delay the downloading of updates for a while, but Microsoft will force them on you eventually.

    However, there are a few tricks you can do in order to control the updates to an extent.

    If you are using a WiFi connection with limited data, you can set the WiFi connection to Metered“, which will allow you to decide when to download updates, rather than Windows just downloading them automatically.

    In the Anniversary update, there is also a feature called “Active Hours, which lets you specify times when updates should not be installed.

    Microsoft have also released a tool that lets you choose individual updates to not install, which is handy for those updates that just don’t play nice.

    Configure privacy settings

    When you initially set up Windows 10, be sure to select a CUSTOM install. That way you can modify the privacy settings. If you have already installed, don’t fret – you can still change these settings – have a look here)privacy.jpg

    If you don’t turn off some of these settings, you will find yourself agreeing to all sorts of private data sharing.

    Turn off WiFi Sense


    WiFi Sense automatically connects your PC to detected crowdsourced WiFi networks, acquires network information and provides “additional info” to networks that require it (it’s not clear exactly what constitutes additional info).

    It can be used to automatically share your WiFi password with your contacts on Facebook, Skype, and Outlook.

    You may feel differently about this, but I certainly don’t like the idea of allowing access to my Wi-Fi network unless I specifically give out the password. Here’s how to make sure your computer isn’t doing that — and if it is, how to turn it off.


    Well, these are just a few of the many tyweaks available. Feel free to leave a commen and add some more…

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    Windows 10 Shortcut Keys

    Windows shortcut keys might seem pointless to some, but they really can speed up certain repetitive tasks.


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    Check the list below (courtesy of for some handy shortcuts, and feel free to add anything I’ve missed:

    Keyboard shortcut Action
    Windows key Open or close Start Menu.
    Windows key + A Open Action center.
    Windows key + C Open Cortana in listening mode.
    Windows key + D Display and hide the desktop.
    Windows key + E Open File Explorer.
    Windows key + G Open Game bar when a game is open.
    Windows key + H Open the Share charm.
    Windows key + I Open Settings.
    Windows key + K Open the Connect quick action.
    Windows key + L Lock your PC or switch accounts.
    Windows key + M Minimize all windows.
    Windows key + R Open Run dialog box.
    Windows key + S Open Search.
    Windows key + U Open Ease of Access Center.
    Windows key + X Open Quick Link menu.
    Windows key + Number Open the app pinned to the taskbar in the position indicated by the number.
    Windows key + Left arrow key Snap app windows left.
    Windows key + Right arrow key Snap app windows right.
    Windows key + Up arrow key Maximize app windows.
    Windows key + Down arrow key Minimize app windows.
    Windows key + Comma Temporarily peek at the desktop.
    Windows key + Ctrl +D Add a virtual desktop.
    Windows key + Ctrl + Left or Right arrow Switch between virtual desktops.
    Windows key + Ctrl + F4 Close current virtual desktop.
    Windows key + Enter Open Narrator.
    Windows key + Home Minimize all but the active desktop window (restores all windows on second stroke).
    Windows key + PrtScn Capture a screenshot and save in Screenshots folder.
    Windows key + Shift + Up arrow Stretch the desktop window to the top and bottom of the screen.
    Windows key + Tab Open Task view.
    Windows key + “+” key Zoom in using the magnifier.
    Windows key + “-” key Zoom out using the magnifier.
    Ctrl + Shift + Esc Open Task Manager.
    Alt + Tab Switch between open apps.
    Alt + Left arrow key Go back.
    Alt + Right arrow key Go foward.
    Alt + Page Up Move up one screen.
    Alt + Page down Move down one screen.
    Ctrl + Alt +Tab View open apps
    Ctrl + C Copy selected items to clipboard.
    Ctrl + X Cut selected items.
    Ctrl + V Paste content from clipboard.
    Ctrl + A Select all content.
    Ctrl + Z Undo an action.
    Ctrl + Y Redo an action.
    Ctrl + D Delete the selected item and move it to the Recycle Bin.
    Ctrl + Esc Open the Start Menu.
    Ctrl + Shift Switch the keyboard layout.
    Ctrl + Shift + Esc Open Task Manager.
    Ctrl + F4 Close the active window.

    Windows 10 Wallpaper Looking Shoddy?

    So you set a nice Hi-Res image to be your wallpaper on your shiny new Windows 10 PC. But something doesn’t look right. The image looks low-res, or not-as-hi-res-as-it-should.

    This is because by default, Windows 10 compresses the image when you set it as a wallpaper, presumably for performance and drive space benefits. Fortunately there is a workaround that can fix this problem.

    The quick fix is to replace the compressed image file with your original image. Navigate your way to:


    You will see a file called TranscodedWallpaper. It has no file extension. Rename it to TranscodedWallpaper_old


    Now, Copy your hi-res original image into the same location, and rename it to TranscodedWallpaper (no file extension!).

    You should also delete the CachedFiles folder, if it exists. If you change your wallpaper, you will have to repeat this process.

    The more lengthy, more technical approach, is to turn off the file compression permanently.

    Open the Windows registry by typing “regedit” in the Start menu search box, and clicking on the top entry in the list that pops up. Navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\CONTROL PANEL\DESKTOP. Create a new key by right-clicking inside the pane on the right and choosing New then DWORD (32-bit) Value.


    Give the new DWORD a Value Name of JPEGImportQuality then double-click on it to edit. Set Base to Decimal and Value data to 100, click OK.

    That’s it! The 100 means 100% image quality.
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    Passwords and Security

    Passwords are a big part of everyone’s lives these days. You can’t do a lot online without needing a pass code of some sort.

    So today, I thought I’d share a little info on how to make a strong password, as well as some other interesting information regarding passwords.


    A good way to come up with a unique password is by using an easy to remember phrase or sentence, and using the first letter from each word in the sentence to generate your password.

    Using the sentence, “My car is red and cost 5 dollars”, for example, you can generate the password “Mcirac$5”.

    Passwords, passphrases, and password managers

    Diceware’s Arnold Reinhold has advised the use of long but memorable passphrases rather than complex passwords.

    For example, a passphrase like correct horse battery staple is easier to remember than a password such as “Dej3ct1ng+9” – and the passphrase is also more difficult for password-cracking programs to guess.

    Reinhold says users should use Diceware passphrases of at least six words long to ensure that they can’t be cracked quickly.

    “Six words may be breakable by an organisation with a very large budget, such as a large country’s security agency. Seven words and longer are unbreakable with any known technology, but may be within the range of large organisations by around 2030. Eight words should be completely secure through 2050.”

    However, some online services restrict the length of passwords, which makes the use of passphrases impossible. That’s where the sentance/phrase/first letter method comes in handy.

    Other security researchers have recommended that users adopt password managers such as 1Password, KeePass, or LastPass.

    These services let you generate random passwords of variable length and store them in a secure way. They also synchronise your passwords across devices.

    While not foolproof, security professionals argue that you will see more success getting people to use a password manager than trying to get them to create and remember secure passwords.

    Security applications provider Splashdata has released its list of the 25 most common passwords found on the Internet.

    The list revealed that “123456” remains the most common password, followed by “password” and “12345678”.

    Splashdata’s Worst Passwords report is compiled using millions of leaked passwords over the last year.

    The list of passwords shows that many people continue to put themselves at risk by using weak passwords.

    “Passwords based on simple patterns on your keyboard remain popular despite how weak they are,” said SplashData.

    “Any password using numbers alone should be avoided, especially sequences. As more websites require stronger passwords or combinations of letters and numbers, longer keyboard patterns are becoming common passwords, and they are still not secure.”

    Here are SplashData’s Worst Passwords of 2015:

    1. 123456
    2. password
    3. 12345678
    4. qwerty
    5. 12345
    6. 123456789
    7. football
    8. 1234
    9. 1234567
    10. baseball
    11. welcome
    12. 1234567890
    13. abc123
    14. 111111
    15. 1qaz2wsx
    16. dragon
    17. master
    18. monkey
    19. letmein
    20. login
    21. princess
    22. qwertyuiop
    23. solo
    24. passw0rd
    25. starwars

    Top password tips:

    • Do not enable the “remember me” function available on websites to remember passwords. If someone else gets access to your computer just think about all the social networks and shopping sites they can enter.
    • Do not share passwords with anyone.
    • Never use personal information such as your name, birthday, or spouse’s name in a password as personal information is often publicly available.
    • Create a long password. A password should be at least six characters long, but should ideally consist of 12 characters if the site allows it.
    • Do not use the same password for each account. If someone discovers a person’s password for one account, they will be able to access all the other accounts.
    • Attempt to create a password that is a combination of numbers, symbols and both uppercase and lowercase letters if the website allows it.
    • Avoid using words that can be found in the dictionary. For example, swimming1 would be a weak password. Random passwords are usually considered to be the strongest.
    • One can use a tool such as password generator to create strong passwords.

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