Category Archives: General

Just a general category

Are you protecting your network?

More and more, with the growth of the IoT (Internet of things), we are adding to our network. Don’t take me wrong, being able to see who is at your front door, or adjusting your thermostat on the way home is great, but these things need Internet access. Unfortunately, these end-points or nodes aren’t always secure. In fact, there was a case where Ring Doorbell had a vulnerability that if someone had access to the doorbell unit they could get your Wi-Fi password, which would give them access to your whole network. Some brands, like Ring, are on top of it and patch known issues quickly, but some—not so much. My suggested solution is network segregation. This could include using a guest network on your wireless router, or multiple routers and segregated networks via multiple devices. In my case, I went overkill with the latter option—someone commented on the number of routers I have in place. The idea of network segregation is even if someone has access to one of your IoT devices, it should not bounce over to your home network. So if you use IoT devices and want to segregate your network but don’t know how, give me a call.

-Daryl Jiles

How I Protect Myself From Ransomware Theoretically

I have broken down how I have set up a safeguard below, with three steps Prepare, Backup, and Restore.

Prepare: Prepare for when not if you will get ransomware on your device.

Understanding Ransomware is the first step, which is Encryption of your files. And about the only two ways to get that info back is a backup or well a backup. You can just pay the ransom to get the Encryption Key, but then the bad guy has your info and money.

Backup: Backup your data

Now the backup side, so I suggest a good backup. When it comes to backups though all are not equal, so how is the backup done is a big factor. Understanding backups is another subject, but the basic is if you don’t have older backups it is basically like not having a backup at all. Also if your backup is encrypted it will do no good.  My suggestion would be to have a couple of backup chains on a separate drive.

Restore: Restore your data

Now once you can tell you are a victim of Malware (Ransomware) you need to restore the data. Now I have restored a backup with my backup software but some are different. So I can’t give a step by step for yours.

To end this just be prepared, bad guys are wreaking havoc and not just for large systems, you can be hacked also. So do you want to be prepared to get back that picture from your kids or grandkids 1st birthday, or lose it forever?

 

Ransomware – a type of malicious software designed to block access to a computer system until a sum of money is paid.

Encryption – the process of converting information or data into a code, especially to prevent unauthorized access.

Encryption Key – a random string of bits created explicitly for scrambling and unscrambling data.

Malware – software that is intended to damage or disable computers and computer systems.

To err is human – and to blame it on a computer is even more so.

So I can count a few times in the past month that bad hardware has made an appearance.  The issues is for some people this can make a Tech look bad. Now if you have unlimited funds then it is easy to fix, but I know I don’t have unlimited funds do you. (If you do let me know I will give you my address and you can cut me a check.) So let’s take a look at some examples shall we.  Now these are actually issues not just made up, I have two, they have to do with networking. So I go over to a friend’s house to do some simple network work. They had a default set Router/AP so I made 3 changes. 1. Changed login name and password. 2. Changed SSID name and password. 3 combined the SSIDs for 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. Well all was good for a bit , but then the 2.4 GHz quit working, so I go back and separate as asked and after a day the 2.4 GHz quit working quit again. So this is a hardware issue, and lucky this was a friend and I could easy explain what was happening. But some would look at it as you combined the broadcast IDs so you broke it. This bring us to another issue, so another friend was having what is a DNS issues, DNS standing for Domain Naming Service. Quick explanation on this, so the web works on IP addressing mostly IPv4 (IPv6 is right around the corner said someone 20 years ago.).  So you need to go to http://www.x86pcrepair.com/ well at this writing the IP address is 198.71.232.3. So let me ask, is it easier to remember the IP address or the FQDN (Full Qualified Domain Name)? Quick test what is the IP address for https://www.google.com (64.233.177.104) or https://www.facebook.com (31.13.69.228)?  *Added note these are server farms with load balancing so you might get another IP Address if you check. So you can see how the DNS is pretty important. Well this one network was not providing the DNS correctly, but only on the Wireless. So wait this just doesn’t make sense. Well the WI-FI is simply not broadcasting the DNS with the DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol) broadcast. So how can this be fixed? Well the two biggest options would be to do a backup of the SOHO (Small Office Home Office) router and Flash the firmware to see if that corrects it, or simply replace it. This could work for both instances. But this isn’t a simply fix, see to back it up and flash the firmware it you would need to know what was happening and anytime you flash a firmware you have the potential of bricking the device, or basically making it not good anymore. Plus this process could take some time, so I believe in a once of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Replacing is easy, but you have to look to see if it is under warranty, if so you need to call the manufacturer whom will probably make you run many of the some things over again, before they replace it. Or if not just go out and buy a new one. (Unlimited funds people hint, hint I will give you my address and you can cut me a check.)  So the end of this post is to simply let the Tech explain that the issues is hardware and it might not be their fault.

 

-Daryl Jiles

 

If you have any computer needs or issues, please reach out to x86 PC Repair.

Time For Your Flu Shot!

So you are told to just go get an Anti-Virus Scan. But you still end up with a Virus. Inconceivable! Well part is you must know how Malware works. See a Virus is Malware but Malware isn’t always a Virus.  I know this sounds funny but look at it as if Malware is an umbrella and Viruses lives under it. So just get a Malware scanner and I am done right? Not so fast Sherlock. Knowing how these differ is needed at this point. Let’s break it down like this, most Malware detection be it Malware Scans, Adware Scan, Spyware Scan, Virus Scans etc. have what is called a definition file. Now I can go into details but that would involve lots of research which for this blog post is not necessary.  So an updated definition file has what is new for the scan. So that is why not having your definition file up-to-date is like not having a scan at all. So now let’s get into how and Anti-Virus definition and a Malware definition are different. So the best way for me to look at it is Anti-Virus Scanners are old school and Malware Scanners are new school. So let’s say you like a band like AC/DC well Anti-Virus Scan would be like “Dude AC/DC is my Jam!” and a Malware Scan would be like “What is this AC/DC you speak of?”  On the other Hand (Showing my age) Let’s say you asked a Malware Scanner about Adele it could say “Dude Adele is my Jam!” but an Anti-Virus might be like “What is this Adele you speak of?”. See how that works? Now to add to the confusion fast forward a year and ask the same question and you might get something like this. Anti-Virus Scan would be like “Dude Adele is my Jam!” and a Malware Scan would be like “What is this Adele you speak of?”  So that said Malware Scan definitions are up-to-date but don’t keep old data. Anti-Virus Scan definitions are not up-to-date with new issues but keep old data. So the best bet is to use both. And luckily an Anti-virus and a Malware Scan can run side by side.  (I need to add this involves a setup that might be hard for some people)  Now does this stop issues no, I typically run about 4 different scans on a PC I think has a Virus. Also I tend to pay attention to PUPs (Potential Unwanted Programs) and PUMs (Potential Unwanted Modifications) that some people don’t. So with that said run both and get help if you need it to set it up, also if you suspect a Virus, get it checked out ASAP. Even with the years I have been working with PCs Viruses can still get past me.

 

DisclaimerVirus removal is not a 100% guarantee and the best solution is a wipe and load of a system to remove them.

 

-Daryl Jiles

How much wood could a Woodchuck chuck if a Woodchuck could chuck wood?

Well I am guessing that many of you have heard this saying.  And also thinking what in the world does this have to do with Computer Repair. Well One thing that feel happens a lot is when you tell someone how long a job might takes, and a price per hour they are shocked. So that brings us to the saying “How much wood could a Woodchuck chuck if a Woodchuck could chuck wood?” I feel the number one concern, is they or someone they know can do it for free. And agreed if you have someone that can and is willing to do it for free it is silly to pay someone. The issue is can you get someone to do it for free, or have someone walk you through it?  As an IT Consultant one of the things I do (outside of Computer Repair/Networking) is consulting. This is usually on if the price is worth it or not. An example is if you need a part replaced on your machine and it is a cost effective FRU (Field Replaceable Unit)? Most times a HDD (Hard Disk Drive) is resendable, but a Mother Board replacement might not be. See with a simple HDD replacement it could take a tech 20 minutes or a few hours depending on what you want them to do. Add a new HDD 20 minutes, Replace and clone existing multiple hours.

So with that said I all you wanted to know was “How much wood could a Woodchuck chuck if a Woodchuck could chuck wood?” According to a Cornell publication, the answer is ~700 pounds.

-Daryl Jiles

 

Lions, Tigers, and Databases oh my!

Database: a structured set of data held in a computer, especially one that is accessible in various ways.


OK first off I am not a database administrator so look at this as my opinion.  The only hands on experience I have with a true DBMS (database management system) was back in 2007 when I was playing with PHP and stored items in MySQL. So this week in my Java class we are going over multi-dimensional arrays.  Well that is basically a database, now don’t take me wrong a DBMS such as Microsoft SQL Server is much more but the idea is the same. So if you have ever made an Excel Spread Sheet that is a rudimentary database from my understanding. Now as stated before I am not an expert on the matter so if I am wrong please let me know at daryl.jiles@x86pcrepair.com.

Now the reason I even bring this up is thinking about the code I have to finish up for class this week, I figured why not explain that the idea of database isn’t scary. Now with that said don’t go and make changes to your registry and be like “its no big deal”. You can really mess up a database if not careful, and without a backup you could render your Microsoft Operating System un-bootable. And let’s face it if you can’t boot, and want to get your Candy Crush on you will not be a happy camper. So what I would say to do for fun, is look to SQLite http://www.sqlite.org/ and see if it interest you. Now as I said once before, you must jump in if you want to learn how this stuff works. So download it and have some fun. If you have any ideas of things you want to know about let me know at daryl.jiles@x86pcrepair.com, or you will keep getting this silliness because my brain thinks of it on my way to target, along with The Wizard of Oz, Pink Floyd: The Dark Side of the Moon sync.

-Daryl Jiles

Have you tried turning it off and on again?

Probably the number one thing asked in IT and the one you dread the most. Well this actually works 90% of the time, and here I will explain how.

See your computer is always storing information in what is called RAM. So as things go on more and more information is stored. Well as you run an application it will store files in RAM and sometimes…. Well too many to count times it isn’t cleared out correctly. To give an example I can almost bet that you have 100 or more registry keys that are pointing to nothing in your MS PC as we speak.  Well what happens is you may have something pointing to something that is no longer in RAM or points to bad data, which will cause an error. But usually we do not even see it. So what restarting does is clears out the RAM and kind of starts over. For many this is just common knowledge, but to others they want to hit the person on the phone with an iron when they ask it. So even I get angry when I call a tech support and that is the first thing they ask, but my question is how many times they could get off the phone in 30 seconds if this works. So please remember when you call that IT person that this is an actual troubleshooting step that works. Now that said still call, it may not be this easy and never restart if you suspect something bad is in places as it could cause a big issue.

-Daryl Jiles

Why the Internet!

So in today’s age most people are on the internet I some form, even if it is via a smartphone.  So why should we be on the internet you ask. Well I will start by saying ease of use and security are on opposite ends of a balancing bar. Look at it as a see-saw, so security is on one end and ease is on the other. So obviously the most secure would be to not be on the internet, but that would not be easy. So without this being a security talk (Trust me we will at some point) let’s just look at the good about the internet. So typically if you use the internet even at the basic level it is just for e-mail. Well this in itself is a big advantage over basic mail delivery or snail mail as they call it in the IT world. So let’s say I want to tell a friend in California about a great thing in my life but the phone is not an option.  The typical snail mail could take 2-7 days, but e-mail could only take a matter of seconds, plus no postage. Also lets say I wanted to add pictures, that would add to the cost in snail mail, where in can add them as an attachment or a URL (Uniform Resource Identifier) and they have the pictures no extra cost. So know lets say you want to chat with them, well you have text chat options on the internet, but also you can use an application such as Skype. These applications allow you to actually be able to talk with the human voice like a phone with another person at very low cost. Obviously there are many reason to use the internet, but if secured there are very few reasons not to.  Now most people readying his won’t need to, but share it with friends and family. As the older age group can’t get around as well the internet can keep them connected to the world.  Just remember as I saw on an internet MEME. “I am OK teaching my Mom to use a computer. After all she taught me to use a spoon.”

 

-Daryl Jiles

Why CLI or the Command Line Interface is a Techs friend? Part 3

Warning! Any computer manipulate in is done at your risk!

NOTE: The information shared in this applies to Windows 10, Windows 8.1 and Windows 7. Note that, for simplicity, we will use screenshots taken only in Windows 10

NOTE: Command Prompt is not case sensitive, meaning that commands can be typed with capital letters, lowercase or any combination of them. The commands CD, cd or Cd will all work in the same way.

OK so we have seen a few basics command now let’s rename a files and folder, copy files and folders, and Launch an application.

How to rename files and folders

OK so when we left off we had one folder with one file in the root of where we were working. So to see what we have I have used the tree command. This is fun on I will talk about later.

1

So let’s start by renaming the folder. By moving to the root of the folder in my case being H: and running the ren command. So I would Type: h: (Then Press Enter), then Type: ren x86_Root x86_Root_Ren (Then Press Enter). This would give me the below, notice I ran a dir to show he change.

2

So as you can see the folder x86_Root has been renamed. So know lets change the files name Hello.txt to Hello_Ren.txt So I Type: cd: x86_Root_Ren (Then Press Enter), Then Type: ren Hello.txt Hello_Ren.txt(Then Press Enter). I then run a dir command to see the change.

3

Copy files and folders

Now let’s do some copying first Type: cd .. (Then Press Enter), and then Type: cls (Then Press Enter) to clear the screen. So with this we will be using the copy command and the xcopy command. So for this I am going to make the x86_Copy folder I do this by Typing: md x86_Copy(Then Pressing Enter). You can use the information from part 2 for this step. What I am looking for is your working directory to look like the below.

4

So now let’s copy Hello_Ren.txt. So to do this you would use copy in the format of copy [drive letter]: [source folder] \ [source file] [destination folder] \ [destination file] so for me it would be
Type: copy h:\x86_Root_Ren\hello_Ren.txt h:\x86_Copy\Hello_Ren.txt (Then Press Enter).

5

As you can see I made a mistake in my first line of using h:\x86_Copy_Ren as my destination and it gave me an error. I thought it was good to show mistakes happen so don’t be intimidated. Now let’s copy a folder with xcopy.
So to do this you would use xcopy in the format of xcopy [drive letter]: [source folder] [destination folder] so for me it would be.
Type: xcopy h:\x86_Root_Ren h:\x86_Root_Xcopy (Then Press Enter).

6

As you can see I had to tell the computer I wanted to copy to a folder or Directory.

Launch an application from the Command Prompt

Now let’s run an application! You won’t do this much but it is nice to know so let’s look at a built in MS app we can play with. mspaint.exe is a good one, note there is a file with paths so that if you are trying to run an application that is not in a folder it will look in a path in this file. By default the folder associated with mspaint.exe is in this file so this is not the most accurate but it gets to the point.
So simple go to your CLI and enter the executable in.

In the command prompt I entered mspaint and the paint program started in my Windows.

So in the CLI or Command Prompt Type: mspaint (Then Press Enter).

7a

7b

So that is about it, I purposely left out deleting as this can be very catastrophic if not done correctly. So if it reaches this level get someone that knows to help. I would like to thank anyone that has viewed these and openly ask you to send any feedback to daryl.jiles@x86pcrepair.com. This being my first jump into this type of instruction I have a long way to go, but looking at my post you can see how I have changed and manipulated my format already. So I leave you with this, do what you love and if technology calls you don’t be afraid of it but embrace it. I have years of experience but would have never learned had I not experimented. So thanks everyone and Have a backup…. Have I said that yet?

So as I go I leave you with a tree image from the CLI.

8

 

-Daryl Jiles

Why CLI or the Command Line Interface is a Techs friend? Part 2

Warning! Any computer manipulate in is done at your risk!

NOTE: The information shared in this applies to Windows 10, Windows 8.1 and Windows 7. Note that, for simplicity, we will use screenshots taken only in Windows 10

NOTE: Command Prompt is not case sensitive, meaning that commands can be typed with capital letters, lowercase or any combination of them. The commands CD, cd or Cd will all work in the same way.

Command Prompt is not built only on advanced commands, but also on simple commands designed to perform basic operations. So don’t be afraid of it, just know you can have devastating issues if you are not careful. That said I learned one command at a time just as I want you to, so play a bit and have fun just be careful.

I am using a USB thumb drive marked as H:, but if you feel safe you could create a folder on your system drive usually C: So replace anything I enter as an H:  with a C: or the drive letter of your folder and you should be good.

So let’s start with making How to access a certain drive volumes. So depending on your system you could have any number or drive or volumes like on my PC I have 4 drives and 6 volumes. So you can look at a volume as a section of the hard drive allocated for use and assigned a drive letter.  But one most remember you can have unallocated volumes but that is another lesson.  So let’s say you are on C: and want to go to H: simply type in the drive letter: followed by enter. Like for me I would Type H: (Then Press Enter)

1

So as you can see by entering the command above I have moved to the drive I wanted. So let’s make some files and folders to view.
First let’s make a folder, you can name this anything but I am going with x86_Root. So to do this lets use the md or make directory command. Just say “md folder name” so I would Type: md x86_Root (Then Press Enter)

2

But wait how do I know it was made? That is where the dir command comes in. This is probably the one tool you will use the most in the CLI. dir shows a list of the directory structure of the folder you are in like in my example I was in the root of H:. So let’s see what we have by Typing: dir (Then Press Enter)

3

So now let’s move to the directory by using the CD command. CD being short for change directory. So let’s Type: cd x86_Root (Then Press Enter)

4

So as you can see I have moved to x85_Root and ran a dir to show I am in the folder. You can also know this by seeing H:\x86_Root
Now let’s create a file.

So I like simple using Echo for this. Not sure if you remember Echo from my last post but simply echo just adds what is follow on the screen, such as when I used echo Hello CLI!. Well you can also use this to create a file with the text. By using the > you populate the following file with what is before it. This will be helpful later but for now let’s just echo text into a file. So let’s Type: echo Hello CLI! > Hello.txt  (Then Press Enter) You can use other file types but I like Text or .txt for just playing.

5
Now I have ran dir to show you the file but let’s see the content. So use the type command.
Type: type Hello.txt (Then Press Enter)

6

That is all for today, but as you can see as we move further and further this will get more complex.

My Suggestion: Have a backup before you attempt anything on your PC seriously.