Pushing the ON button on a running computer has different results depending on the power settings. It may cause the system to do nothing, enter sleep mode (the default), hibernate, or shutdown. Computers setup by me are altered to shutdown when the button is pressed. But what happens if you hold that button in for more than 4 seconds ? It shuts down abruptly.
This is sometimes the only way to shut it down if Windows is so messed up that nothing else will do, but it is exactly the same as pulling the power cord. Hence, it is strongly discouraged as it is most likely to cause a corruption of some Windows files which will at best provide unexpected results next time you start (and forever after) and at worst prevent the system starting at all.
Why is that I hear you ask. Well, these are a few of the things that have to happen in a clean shutdown:
If these things don't happen Windows is in an unknown state when it starts. If you have to do this then at least try a repair immediately you start next time (SFC/SCANNOW) but try to avoid it at all costs. The best advice if you have a non-responding or hung system is simply to do nothing as often times Windows will sort itself out eventually. Failing that a Ctrl/C or Esc could help. Try a Ctrl/Alt/Del and then logout as at least then your user profile record will be preserved.
In a word, yes. You're probably aware of the commonly used arguments against this: that Apple Store software is curated and thus harder to impregnate, also that there are so few Macs that the bad guys are more likely to target the lower and more plentiful fruit that are Windows PCs. Both these points hold less water as the months go by.
There are plenty of OSX ready packages that can be found from outside the Apple store now, for each of these you must trust not only the intent but also the quality of protections implemented by the supplier. Many infections come as Trojans and therefore bypass the Apple Store security as the end user inadvertently invites the infection. It is true that OSX is sandboxed by design but this cannot be considered as more than just another hurdle to the inventive and determined hacker.
As time goes by Windows is becoming more secure and the number of Mac installations is increasing; also Apple computers, being more expensive, are typically owned by the more affluent - facts not lost on would-be felons.
There are cheap and easy steps that can be taken to give the bad guys an extra challenge: ensure that the latest updates to OSX and applications are installed, and be wary of browser plugins and other 'free' software that add high risk platforms such as Flash and Java (the default on latest versions of Safari).
There are two suggested protective programs: Avast Free Mac Security and Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac. Which you choose depends on your appetite for risk, the effect that an infection would have on you, and the thickness of your wallet.
I have previously written about the waste of time and resources that are programs, usually initially free, that suggest they can improve performance, enhance your registry, or pretty much any other simple maintenance task.
There are a catagory of programs designed to help you maintain device drivers at the latest version. Sometimes they claim to fix problems by modifying drivers. Do not waste time or money installing any of them. Here's why.
A device driver is simply an interface between hardware and Windows. If the hardware works there is liitle scope for improvement. On a test system it has been shown that false concerns are raised by suggesting that old drivers are installed, but this is nothing more than a blatant attempt to upsell the paid version of the program.
The updater software suggests that old versions 'can cause problems, system slowdowns and bluescreen errors.' This is technically true, but very unlikely. It's also technically true that updated drivers could cause problems, system slowdowns, and blue-screen errors by introducing new bugs. It's a wash.
The fact is that with the possible exception of graphics drivers for hardcore gamers you don't need driver updates. Any necessary legitimate updates will arrive automatically via Microsoft Update so nothing further needs be done. If you have the urge to see what genuinely is running an old version it is a simple matter to manually run Device Manager then right click each device and 'Update Driver...'.
The concern is partly the waste of money and poor performance that is introduced but also the corruption that often occurs from installing the wrong driver. The difficulty is that to ensure you are not using Windows on more than the number of computers it is licensed for, Microsoft records some details of the hardware and firmware that are not usually changed and compares those each time Windows starts. If there is a difference then they assume that you are trying to run Windows on a different PC and cause the current installation of Windows to become marked as counterfeit. This results in all future genuine Windows updates failing and the computer becoming less secure.
Even worse, unsigned or correctly validated drivers run in protected (kernel) mode and do cause computers to fail to start. In this case reinstalling Windows will not help unless the disk is formatted first.
So the take away message is if it ain't broke don't fix it. If Windows is reinstalled from a generic disk then manufacturer supplied drivers will usually be better than Windows default, but using the right driver is far more important than using the latest version.
It's been three years since I last blogged about femtocells - the little devices that you can plug into the back of your router and act as a miniature mast for the mobile phone signal. If you have a reasonable (perhaps greater than 4 Mbps download) speed broadband line, adding a femtocell can boost your ability to send texts and phone considerable - up to about 15 metres from the device anyway.
You can pick up these devices from between free (from your provider) and £100 but note that it is illegal to use those not sanctioned by your network provider. Whatever it says on eBay, ask for proof of legality before clicking the buy button.
There is a good tutorial on all aspects of the technology over at radio-electronics.com
There are four main networks:
FreedomPop have at last launched in the UK. The standard free package is 200 minutes, 200 texts and 200MB of data a month and is guaranteed to be free for life. They have plans for folks who use more airtime and they are competitively priced - especially if you sign up during their introductory trial period.
You can roll over any unsued date to the next month. At £1.49 a month, it doesn't cost a lot, but it is more than free. You can roll over up to 500MB of unused data per month, and store a total of 20GB of roll over data in all.
You can share data with friends and family, but only if they're on FreedomPop. You can sign up to receive usage alerts so that you won't incur any additional charges, and you can be assigned a virtual international phone number so people in other countries can call you for free.
https://www.freedompop.com/uk takes to to a place where you can select the type of Sim you want and buy it for about a fiver.
Claimed benfits include:
However there are things to note:
There be confusion in the shires as people receive "Password Incorrect" errors when the password has been held in the mail client (Windows Live Mail, Outlook, Thunderbird, 3rd party email apps on Android devices etc.) unchanged for years. This causes folks to think their account has been hacked so they change the password; but woa - the same error message pops up again ! What's that about ?
The security minded people who run Gmail unilaterally decided that the old way of authenticating: passing your username and password in unencrypted form, is too insecure for comfort. So rather than setting an appropriate error message they chose to frighten folks with a cryptic puzzler.
This only applies with mail clients using the older 'basic' authentication methods such as those above; clients using OAuth 2.0 will not suffer so. What's to be done ? There are three possible solutions.
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