marahmarie: my initials (MM) (Default)

I just...*headdesks with laughter*

My phone's cheapest prepaid plan is $45 through GoPhone, aka AT&T PREPAID (allcaps are theirs, not mine). I don't, to say the least, have $45 for anything, much less my stupid phone, but we're getting into storm season, I still fear the trees and I happened to drop my LG flip phone - which I kind of fucking adored in all its 2G glory - in the toilet the other day and the 3G replacement is such a dud I plan to throw it off the next bridge I come across.

Besides my Windows phone and my bridge-bound dud, I have a tiny Android I haven't used in literally years, so I called Net10, who services it, to ask about plans. Their cheapest is $35, saving me $10 bucks, so I took it (data went from 6GB high speed with rollover to 2GB without rollover; other than that the plans are about the same) only to realize I had to migrate my Windows phone data to Android - mostly contacts, photos and emails (I could be upset about losing call logs and texts but I'm really not, so I haven't sought to restore either one of those).

As I write this Google Drive, aka Backup and Sync (the name change is theirs, not mine, sans the allcaps) is syncing 9,655 files between my laptop and their servers. I decided my folder selection was too aggressive when GUID diagrams for Firefox and my Dell printer began rolling in but whatever. To get this far I had to uninstall Google Drive after merely "upgrading" it to Backup and Sync, which failed miserably, not allowing me to sync the proper folders and basically fubaring everything.

While I was unfubaring the laptop installation, I rolled back Drive on Android to factory-installed settings and broke the sync connection from my laptop, which wiped out all the files on Android's Drive. There weren't many because the Gmail address I use for Android was not talking to the one I use on my laptop so I logged out of GMail on my laptop, logged back in using my Android Gmail address, then re-installed Drive (now Backup and Sync) on my laptop. This installation went flawlessly and is syncing away as I write this - and slowing my connection to Dreamwidth to a crawl.

When it's finished, I should be able to upgrade Drive to Backup and Sync on Android and pull in files from my laptop, which should bring over my Windows phone data, because I threw my OneDrive folder in there and it actually let me, which I cannot believe. Getting that done should pull in all the photos on my Windows phone, which are the only data still missing after the work I did last night to pull in everything else...

First I imported my main Outlook account to GMail, but the import was marked "has not started" with a "provide info" link that made me log in again in a small, separate window that barred add-ons like LastPass from running, then told me my credentials were incorrect although after triple-checking them against LastPass I could see everything was correct.

So I googled these problems and import will probably never finish based on others getting the same error messages since literally 2009, so I moved down the list to Send Mail As and Check mail from other accounts. Those tasks went as expected, so now my Outlook mail is forwarding to GMail on Android, so I'll never really need to check my Windows phone again. I also have a setting that shows what's coming in off Outlook - but according to the unlabelled emails I'm getting at the moment, it's at least partly malfunctioning, so I'll need to fiddle with that some more.

Once that was done, my Windows contacts synced with Android and GMail started receiving Outlook mail, so things were getting better, but I don't like stock Android, so I was in need of a more ideal solution when I stumbled across Arrow Launcher, which uses "pages" in place of launch icons or home screen widgets to let you see email as it arrives (you can use app icons or pages, but pages are amazing) so I set up an Outlook page as my second home screen (just swipe right) and now I don't even need an app to scan my email (though I still need an app to read the body text).

Unlike any Windows app ever, it doesn't crash (well, it crashed immediately after installing - um, it not only crashed, it removed all my custom settings, but after a phone restart and a redo of all the settings, it seems to work just fine).

To get around Android's ugly stock app I'm using Android Messages; I tried Allo but it's too resource-intensive, so I had to remove it after only a few minutes. That I can't update from Jellybean to the current version is irritating because I want the Ibotta app, which so far is the only app that isn't compatible, but I haven't really "done" apps in my rush to get Windows data onto Android, so I guess I'll see what else fails to play well with it eventually.

marahmarie: my initials (MM) (Default)

Since I've gone out of my way to pick apart a malware how-to on PCWorld that had too much text/too many steps just to reboot into Safe Mode (conversely, I think my version *still* leaves out selecting Safe Mode before Restart, so I might have gone a wee bit too minimal!, but I'll run through the steps again to make sure)* I figured I'd offer folks a contrast to show how much "fun!" a tutorial can be.

Mine are rarely "fun!"; my nerves get so wrecked getting things right there's not much left over for "fun!". So do as I say, not as I...anyway, Adam Clark Estes at Gizmodo, who I ran across after my own how-to attempt (any title with the words "If You Dare" makes me wanna dare, so I looked even though I don't have Apple-anything to see if he'd get into installing it on Parallels - which shows how little I know about Apple/Mac/iOS) gets it right. Maybe I should try to hire him? After I win Lotto?

Though his style isn't mine, and I prefer mine for Reasons, you have to admit he hits the right notes, like this:

Until the software gets an official release, you can expect your phone to be a big pain in the arse, featuring all kinds of new adventures like crashing apps and awful battery life. So you should consider running the new software on a secondary device, in order to avoid ruining your day-to-day phone usage.

And this:

If all this sounds fine to you

I like this for a few reasons: a) he's not losing sleep wondering if you should. b) You're good with it? So is he! Which sounds kind of re-assuring.

And, finally:

Once you're all updated, have a blast. Impress your friends. Expect everything to crash! It will be annoying, but you'll feel so cool in your annoyance.

I loled.

His how-to is also quite short (maybe that's the difference between how much harder Windows is than Apple-anything? Windows isn't hard to use/tweak/take apart for me, but I doubt my ease with it is on par with much of the population's).

In fact, his how-to is so damn short if I quote much more maybe I'll get in trouble, so just go visit the link (and if you're an iOS user and try it let me know how it goes - though I am not, so I can't help it if it all goes south).

* Ran through the steps on my PC again after posting and nah, it's fine, it's just that the final Restart boots your computer directly into Safe Mode - there are no other options on that screen because it's just that easy...(but seriously, my nerves do get shot making sure of things like this).

marahmarie: my initials (MM) (Default)

In a weird twist, it's not HP recording your keystrokes on certain desktops and laptops - technically it's a Conexant audio driver that does the actual keystroke recording (it includes a debugging program that went a little haywire; whether that's by design or error is not yet known). HP has since released a security advisory that claims the driver's keystroke logging is "caused by a local debugging capability that was not disabled prior to product launch".

Because Conexant makes audio drivers for many computer brands, this privacy intrusion may ultimately affect many other computer, laptop and tablet makes and models, as well.

That means check your tablet, laptop or computer for this driver - no matter which make, model, form factor or version of Windows you have.

You can follow these steps to find the Conexant audio driver on your device and to get a new HP driver without the keylogger in it:

  1. Using Cortana or a search tool like Everything, look for C:\Windows\System32\MicTray.exe or C:\Windows\System32\MicTray64.exe (you can right-click, copy and paste these words right from here into either one of those tools).
  2. If either file turns up, right click the computer taskbar, select Task Manager and look for either MicTray.exe or MicTray64.exe. If either of these turns up, right-click it and select End task.
  3. Go back to the file you found in C:\Windows\System32, right-click it and delete it.
  4. Install the latest HP driver from here. [ed. note: requires FTP to download]
  5. Now search your computer for C:\Users\Public\MicTray.log or check C:\Users\Public\ for the file; if it turns up, open it and check for login names, passwords, banking info, and so on, then change your passwords at the affected websites. 

Microsoft says in this advisory that "Windows Defender AV detects and removes this threat" but also warns "[d]oing so also disables the keyboard short cut that turns the microphone on and off."

For affected desktops and notebooks/laptops HP has made the public aware of scroll to the titles Commercial Desktops, Consumer Notebooks and Commercial Notebooks in the same security advisory linked above, which will list affected models not found in the lists below.

More affected notebook/laptop models the public has been made aware of [list]:

* HARDWARE PRODUCT MODEL(S):
HP EliteBook 820 G3 Notebook PC
HP EliteBook 828 G3 Notebook PC
HP EliteBook 840 G3 Notebook PC
HP EliteBook 848 G3 Notebook PC
HP EliteBook 850 G3 Notebook PC
HP ProBook 640 G2 Notebook PC
HP ProBook 650 G2 Notebook PC
HP ProBook 645 G2 Notebook PC
HP ProBook 655 G2 Notebook PC
HP ProBook 450 G3 Notebook PC
HP ProBook 430 G3 Notebook PC
HP ProBook 440 G3 Notebook PC
HP ProBook 446 G3 Notebook PC
HP ProBook 470 G3 Notebook PC
HP ProBook 455 G3 Notebook PC
HP EliteBook 725 G3 Notebook PC
HP EliteBook 745 G3 Notebook PC
HP EliteBook 755 G3 Notebook PC
HP EliteBook 1030 G1 Notebook PC
HP ZBook 15u G3 Mobile Workstation
HP Elite x2 1012 G1 Tablet
HP Elite x2 1012 G1 with Travel Keyboard
HP Elite x2 1012 G1 Advanced Keyboard
HP EliteBook Folio 1040 G3 Notebook PC
HP ZBook 17 G3 Mobile Workstation
HP ZBook 15 G3 Mobile Workstation
HP ZBook Studio G3 Mobile Workstation
HP EliteBook Folio G1 Notebook PC

Affected operating systems the public has been made aware of [list]:

* OPERATING SYSTEM(S):
Microsoft Windows 10 32
Microsoft Windows 10 64
Microsoft Windows 10 IOT Enterprise 32-Bit (x86)
Microsoft Windows 10 IOT Enterprise 64-Bit (x86)
Microsoft Windows 7 Enterprise 32 Edition
Microsoft Windows 7 Enterprise 64 Edition
Microsoft Windows 7 Home Basic 32 Edition
Microsoft Windows 7 Home Basic 64 Edition
Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 32 Edition
Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64 Edition
Microsoft Windows 7 Professional 32 Edition
Microsoft Windows 7 Professional 64 Edition
Microsoft Windows 7 Starter 32 Edition
Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate 32 Edition
Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate 64 Edition
Microsoft Windows Embedded Standard 7 32
Microsoft Windows Embedded Standard 7E 32-Bit

I'm pretty sure merely having one of the operating systems listed above - by itself - isn't enough to predict "MicTray.exe" or "MicTray64.exe" will be found on your computer, but any make, model or type of computer - such as your tablet, laptop or computer tower - could have it, so it still doesn't hurt to check.


*ETA, 6-29-17: hat-tip to [personal profile] darkoshi for pointing out HP's security advisory lists laptops affected by this keylogger not found in the lists I posted; while I was noticing that, I realized there's a list of affected HP desktops, as well. Article and post title have been updated accordingly.

marahmarie: my initials (MM) (Default)

Seriously, for the love of God, PCWorld has you do so much just to boot into Safe Mode and it's so unbelievably torturous and will so make you want to stab your eyes out with forks (they didn't even have the simple courtesy to turn their many needless steps into a perhaps easier-to-read list, instead pushing you through a gigantic wall of text that barely passes for a normal paragraph) using both hands at once I'm quoting it just for others to share in my sheer horror (emphasis mine, and oh, do I emphasize! [Bracketed step numbering like so] is also mine.):

Step 1: Enter Safe Mode

[in which I've scraped out two paragraphs of useless fluff you can google which has absolutely nothing to do with how to actually boot into Safe Mode]

Sadly, Microsoft has turned the process of booting into safe mode from a relatively easy process in Windows 7 and Windows 8 to one that is decidedly more complicated in Windows 10. [1] To boot into Windows Safe Mode, first click the Start Button in Windows 10 and select the Power button as if you were going to reboot, but don’t click anything. [2] Next hold down the Shift key and click Reboot. [3] When the full-screen menu appears, select Troubleshooting, then Advanced Options, then Startup Settings. [4] On the next window click the Restart button and wait for the next screen to appear [5] (just stick with us here, we know this is long) [ed. note: NO, really?]. [6] Next you will see a menu with numbered startup options; select number 4, which is Safe Mode [ed. note: Finally, yay! Oh, but wait...-->] . [7] Note that if you want to connect to any online scanners you’ll need to select option 5, which is Safe Mode with Networking.

Dear God.


My way, or the highway

Type "safe" into Cortana. Click on the first result; on the next screen hit the Restart Now button. After restarting, click Troubleshoot, then Advanced Options, then Startup Settings; on the next screen hit the Restart now button.

*drops mic forever* (this came in many words under PCWorld's version even once I had to edit shortly after posting for leaving most of the steps out*)


I could make my version even shorter, but it'd just be nitpicking.

Bold is used in my how-to to help the eye track better, so you stay more focused. And if your steps involve a computer re-start at any point, like these ones did? You need to ask your readers to bookmark the instruction page so they can find it again.

The thing is, if you're gearing words toward the computer-learning, don't use lots of words. You need a clear, short, simple, easy-to-follow framework, preferably in list form if it takes more than 2-3 steps. I struggled with just this issue in learning to write how-tos, and still feel some of them should be even shorter/more concise than they are.

Computer users often know what to look up if they don't understand why they're doing something, so simply tell them how and let them figure out "why" in Google or by asking you or others. You can also explain "why" before you start the actual how-to, but somehow separate it from the actual instructions to help minimize confusion.

And if there are multiple ways to do something, show the simplest way possible. Make it look easy; make it seem like fun! Or they'll never want to follow your steps again. Even I got a headache trying to envision how to perform all of PCWorld's steps: knowing the most complicated way to do something is far from knowing the one way that makes you look l33t even if you have no idea what you just did.

And I'm hoping no one says, "But what about people who disable Cortana?" Can't be done, for one thing. Even if people choose to keep Cortana "hidden", there are still easier ways; for instance, the latest version of Win 10 Pro allows you to find Safe Mode by looking in the taskbar tray for All Settings; from there just go to Updates & Security-->Recovery-->Advanced Startup and hit Restart now, then click Troubleshoot-->Advanced Options-->Startup Settings and hit the Restart button. That's it - for real.

*last paragraph also left steps out; now fixed

marahmarie: my initials (MM) (Default)

This article, to be precise.

The author pisses all over the laptop's parade for three, breathlessly delivered main reasons:

  • all laptops will become bombs, or be treated as such, so no more knee-warmer for you
  • only Apple makes laptops; Apple laptops absolutely blow
  • only young people exist; young people don't age anymore and only buy smartphones and don't ever decide they want something more sophisticated or powerful, so there

While there's much ado about how powerful and sophisticated smartphones are becoming (for instance, 4K screens) there's no mention of how Android is about as secure as a pile of gold ingots left in a busy parking lot in broad daylight with a sign on top with the words "STEAL ME" written in foot high letters, nor of how a small screen that doesn't hold itself up when you need to type with both hands will always be a small screen that doesn't hold itself up when you need to type with both hands, and will be until smartphone makers figure out how to make a phone that unfolds, revealing not just a full-size screen but a full-size keyboard.

If I wasn't quite so stunned at what passes for deductive reasoning here I'd laugh, because the above list - if say, the author was kidding, and this was April's Fool Day - might actually be kind of funny.

marahmarie: my initials (MM) (Default)

It came on a Buy-It-Later feature of PayPal that I forgot I set up on my account, but once I saw it I figured OK, what the hell, I'll wait for the laptop to come and make sure it actually works and comes as advertised before paying. The seller was right about the scratches on the cover but, as some of you know, I like to make pretty-pretty, anyhow.

He didn't list the processor make or model which had me on all kinds of pins and needles because I love AMD's processors (that's Aesop's brand) and hate Intel's (NSAware, especially from Core i7 and up; and just a crappy processor no matter how well it benchmarks; they just never feel as fast as an AMD, especially if you're talking Atom or Celeron). Luckily it turned out to be an AMD Athlon P320 Dual Core.

The battery is lasting about two hours on only 2/3s of a charge so I'm taking that as a good sign. The wifi works flawlessly, video plays seamlessly, the keyboard works perfectly, the trackpad tracks glitchlessly, and the display shines sunnily with no blown pixels or scratches that I can see - and yeah, I was trying to make a poem out of that because I'm pretty freakin' happy about it.

So yeah. Pay the guy. Now. Otherwise I'm using something that he'll wait almost two more weeks to get paid for. I'm really not going to like selling stuff on eBay again if that's how it goes these days - and yeah, that's how it goes. I think it's possible their business model's become too customer-centric (and no, I never thought I'd live to see that day; back when I was a regular eBay seller, it was already getting too close to that for comfort, which was over nine years ago).

And yeah, I think she's (funny how fast she's already a she) got a name. I thought of it last night while thinking about Aesop, the female computer with a guy's name and kick-ass will to not live. She will be ASAP, daughter of Aesop, and hopefully she will not be such a mule-headed diva.