Windows 10 Security

Windows 10I was reading an article on the MakeUseOf website that I subscribe to about Windows 10 watching what you do. Not surprising that the Fix Windows 10 link on the page goes nowhere but there are at least two helpful apps in the article mentioned that are good for users who pay attention to the rumor mill of security issues that have been reported as concerns in Windows 10.

I’m somewhat a realist and do understand the pro’s and con’s of using Windows but ultimately go by the general golden rule that nothing is safe or secure. All of the recent hacks of data from big companies essentially enforces the same thing. I do however think it amazing how Windows users (of any version) complain about the lack of security and then cry foul when Microsoft actually implements more of it.

Microsoft is ultimately not only acting on the best interests of its user-base but the interest of its OS. A more solid product would obviously mean a more solid user-base, but like that’s even a problem for Microsoft. Anyway, that said I don’t plan to comment any further on the latter.

I have worked on a myriad of Windows PC’s though to know that the issue is not always Windows on its own but the sometimes idiot users using them. Users going to game sites, online movie streams, porn sites, whatever and not fully understanding what they are clicking on or otherwise getting themselves into.

User education on the proper use of Windows, for the most part, is still a must. I know people who are completely clueless on how do something as simple as sending an email let alone using a search engine. Certain aspects of the lack of computer education will certainly end in my generation while flourishing quite well in the next, such as my kids generation, as computers are almost mandatory in schools now as well as is computer education.

Changing to a different OS such as Linux or OSX, Chromebooks, Android, whatever, is not a real solution to security as some purport as each has their own set of security issues. In the old days hackers and script-kiddies wouldn’t even give MAC or Linux OS’s the time of day as they were not as widely used. Once these OS’s made their way more mainstream they then became an interest to them and vulnerable. Now we have seen the horror stories

I’m not going to side with these scrupulous people but I cant say I’m totally against what they are doing in showing the vulnerabilities of these OS’s. It would be nice if it could happen in less catastrophic ways but in some ways that’s what is necessary to get a point across. Politeness in notifying OS developers I don’t believe has ever statistically gone well. Ive worked around developers before and “some” have a chip on their shoulder that their code can do no wrong (denial), have an OH SHIT moment or sit on the issue too long until after it has become a major problem.

In any regard, I think Windows users should prepare themselves mentally for the future as Windows gradually gets more and more “security” features rolled into it. Not just to keep Windows echo system as safe as possible but to also save Windows users from themselves.

I’m expecting flack for some of this but right or wrong, I’m just speaking my mind while being open to criticism.

Changing Your Privacy Settings

If you want to change your privacy settings in Windows 10 to elect information you want to share with Microsoft:

From your Windows desktop, click on the Start menu and select Settings > Privacy.

For more info, see the item below in reading resources with regard to the Windows 10 and privacy FAQ.

Some good reading resources:

Preventing comments on the image attachment pages in WordPress

I think Don’t Tread On Me has pretty much lost its meaning these days, especially with regard to spamming. I really hate spam and wish nothing but wicked things to those who do it. In any event, lately I had started seeing spam type comments cropping up on image attachment pages of my site and in checking them out I had no idea that comments could even be placed on these pages. Perhaps I missed that in reading the WordPress Codex at some point or I just plain forgot.

I’m not sure why WordPress does not have a central settings area specifically for controlling comments but it would be nice. Essentially this is left to configuring by way of manual editing of code or using third party plug-ins and I question the necessity of the latter since it seems like a no-brainer to just add the functionality.

The way WordPress handles comments currently allows someone to click on a thumbnail of an image and that in turn displays the image as a post along with a comment area under it. I guess comments on individual images is valuable in some way?

picturespam_40

In any regard, it really drove me nuts whenever I would get a comment notification, review it and find it was on the image page in Russian, jibberish or just nonsense text so I decided to review some of the php files to look for anything related to comments.

I’m currently using the Misty Lake theme by Automattic and noticed in the Image Attachment Template (the image.php file) that towards the bottom it instantiated a call to comments_templates.

mistylake code_60

After making a backup of the image.php file, backups are always recommended, I used the editor in WordPress to removed the line, updated it, and now the comment area no longer appears on image attachment posts.

I will need to remember this moving forward should I ever update the theme as I am sure at some point the image.php file will be updated and I will need to manually remove the line again. Equally, should I change themes I will need to remember to double-check comments. It has actually been a few weeks since I made this manual modification and I have not experienced the spam as I was before. Hopefully the info will help someone.

Well, as an update to this, I decided to create my own custom-functions.php and add a function to do the above.

function DisableMediaComments( $open, $post_id ) {
$post = get_post( $post_id );
if ( 'attachment' == $post->post_type ) {
$open = false;
}
return $open;
}
add_filter( 'comments_open', 'DisableMediaComments', 10, 2 );

The code above should generically work within any theme. There is also another way, based on the comments_template line I removed from the theme I am using. Change the comments_template line from this:

<?php comments_template(); ?>

To this which will only show a Comments form if the parent post has comments enabled:

<?php if (comments_open($post->post_parent)) {
 comments_template();
} ?>

So with the above, if your post is enabled for comments then so will any attached images. Otherwise, if comments are disabled in the post, they will also be disabled for attached images. I believe I Googled the aforementioned and saw it on a few websites/forums so kudos go to whomever posted it first.

In any regard, I still elected for the function in my custom-functions.php file. To me its just easier that way and I don’t have to worry about any code changes to the theme.

String-tie Beads for Guitars/Uke’s

IMG_20150510_182803I use a variety of both nylon as well as steel/bronze strings in my ukulele and guitar builds and at times wanted a more exotic, yet still quick, way of tying strings.

Most often I use whats called a floating bridge, not really conventional, and when using a through-neck design on my builds the holes are often drilled through the tail end of the neck.

Well, I have hangers on my wall for one of my guitars and a ukulele and happened to glance up and see the G string broke. Probably a joke in there somewhere but anyway, there was a bit of string left but not enough for me to back it up and restring it.

I headed out and a few blocks down the way to Guitar Center and they had nothing but Soprano and Concert size strings and then down to Old Town Music in downtown Pasadena but the three story garage for free parking was closed. That pissed me off so I went back home. I ended up calling them but they had none in stock either. Like what the hell?!

I decided to just order on Amazon since I had some credit. In cruising around Amazon looking for replacement Tenor strings to order I came across an item called a string-tie bead that lets you quickly tie off the string and they sometimes increased intonation. Being intrigued, I looked into them further and found that these little rectangular, and round, time-savers are made out of a variety of substances such as plastic, stone and wood.

I thought well heck, I can make those. After about a half hour of research I sat down with my Dremel, pull saw and some dark stain and made a few out of some scrap maple wood I had to try out. Needless to say I was not disappointed in their use.

I was able to salvage the existing string and used the other beads on the existing strings. After re-tuning the strings, my ukulele actually sounded a tad bit louder and cleaner, the sound resonating better through the box. I ordered strings on Amazon anyway since they are so much of a hassle to pin down anywhere.

Quick Uke Bridge

I was playing around with some configurations on paper for a bridge mock-up that I could use on some of my ukulele projects and decided to just keep it simple. This is just a test bridge made from some wood ribbing of a cigar box that I had in my parts drawer.

I like the simplicity of this bridge and how quick I could cut it out with just a pull saw and some wood files so I will remake a couple from maple or something to use for permanently mounting rather than using a floating bridge all the time.

 

C# Programming out of need – Getting IP and MAC Addresses

getipmac-ipThis is my C Sharp project for getting IP and MAC addresses. Code kudos go out to respective developers and websites, such as MSDN, stackoverflow, C# Corner and others I have left out but all code is in the public domain and modified by me to fit my needs.

As far as I am concerned my projects are as-is and there is nothing code efficient in my projects so please don’t beat me up too bad over any of it.

I am not a professional programmer in any regard but do consider myself a coder, this is just my slapped together get ‘er done tool befitting my personal need. If you want to comment on my project offline send me an email at stevegossett (AT) outlook.com

NOTE
You will need .NET 4.5 installed for this C# project and you will need to right-click on the
project name from within the IDE and add references to:

  • System.Management
  • System.Management.Instrumentation


Download Project

 

PVC Mechanical Hand

A week ago one of my boys went on a field trip to CalTech to see some robots and was a bit intrigued so this past weekend I took some 1 inch PVC piping, wood and some other items and showed him how to make a mechanical hand prototype. Its butt-ugly but was a fun project to make. If you dont have PVC or wood laying around, boboa straws and cardboard can be used.

Whats needed:

  • Small block of wood
  • 3 feet of 1 x 1 wood (for handle)
  • 3 feet of 1 inch PVC piping
  • Duct tape or painters tape
  • A window blind or flexible plastic
  • Small hand saw
  • Drill
  • Spade bit (flat drill-bit)
  • 3/8 drill-bit
  • All purpose glue

Taking a block of wood I drilled four holes where I will glue and seat the PVC piping, two horizontal and to at an angle but not all the way through. When finished I took a small drill bit and drilled a hole through the center of each one to accommodate pieces of string.

In cutting the PVC for the fingers, I cut eight pieces at 2 1/2 inches and four at about 1 1/4 inches, although for one finger I only used two pieces. I cut the window blind width-wise for 7 pieces. Roughly they are 4 inches by 3/4 of an inch.

The fingers were assembled prior to gluing in place. I placed one of the tabs cut from the window blind on one of the 2/12 inch pieces of PVC and taped it in place and repeated for the other digits, leaving about 1 inch to a little more than that between pipe pieces. This gives the fingers room to bend.

Once the fingers were assembled I glued them in place, making sure they were pointed the right way for when they bend. What would be the pinkie digit and thumb digit of the four I glued at a bit of an angle for a bit better gripping movement.

Once the glue had dried I measured out the handle part, cut it and mounted it to the hand. Using a larger piece of PVC I cut four rings which will be tied to strings for each finger. Once finished I taped string to the top digits of each finger and fed them through the holes where I then attached the rings, adjusting for fit before deciding on tying the knots.

This was just a prototype of a mechanical hand to demonstrate a bit of the mechanics that goes into building a robot. Its not a glorious project but I think it served it learning purpose.

Cigar Box Electric Guitar

This is my first cigar box electric guitar that I started last July. Actually I started collecting parts for it back in July but didnt get around to start building it until September. The pickup is the one I made a few projects back, specifically to be used for this guitar project.

I used some small aluminum tubing that I bought at Ace Hardware to fit between the string ferrules and the bridge which will allow the strings to run right on through the body.

The ferrules, bridge and jack plate I bought online from bezdez on eBay. Some real good deals to be had from his store. Other miscellaneous parts like audio pots and jack I either had or got from Radio Shack.

The copper tape that I used for the inside of the cigar box I bought at OSH (Orchard Supply Hardware) for $8 versus other places that wanted upwards to $25. Ridiculous!

I’ll have a logo made to put on the wooden volume and tone plate. Its that size actually in the event I get inclined to add a second pickup so I have a place to put a three way switch.

I took my time with this one and it came out nicely. Plays nice as well.

Earthquake School Project

One of my boys had a science project this past year on Earthquakes where he had to create a building and show why his building design would be better than any others. I suggested he create two buildings on a shake table to show one building that wobbles and one that stands firm.

Living next to a crafts store supplied the bits of hobby wood and foam necessary for the project. I supplied the project technical support for him, a couple of hand tools and some glue. He got an A+ on it.

Cigar Box Amp

My Aunt gave me an old cigar box some time back which has been sitting on my closet shelf so I decided to make a small practice amplifier out of it. I didn’t want to ruin the aesthetics of the box so I wanted to do something with it that was not very intrusive.

The electronics of the amp is made using an LM386 audio amplifier, similar to RunOffGroove’s Little Gem schematic and a 3 watt speaker. The speaker, power button and knobs will be housed under the lid of the cigar box as well as the input jack but I might make that the only thing intrusive on the back of the box.

For a speaker cover, I decided to do something a bit 30’s art deco to sort of match the label on the inside of the lid and drew out a cover. The wood for it is from the bottom of a cigar box from a project I screwed up on but saved the scrap. I drilled a couple of pilot holes in the spaces that were to be removed and did the rest with a carpenters knife, a small Japanese pull saw and some small files. I’ve been working on it infrequently during weekends but got quite a bit of it done over this past Christmas time. So far the project is coming along nicely.

Nexus 7 First Gen (2012) – Flashing Lollipop Factory image

I got tired of waiting for Android Lollipop to become available for my Nexus 7 (2012) so decided to grab the factory image and flash it myself. I was pleasantly surprised at how easy this was to accomplish and so far I have not had any issues with Android 5.0. I even dare say that it seems faster than KitKat 4.4.4. I will run a Geekbench on it at some point.

First I downloaded the Android SDK and unzipped it to the root of my D: drive. I chose this location because it has been my experience that the folders run a bit deep and Windows Explorer will eventually bomb out on copying files. Unzipping to the root folder keeps the character count and folder names to a minimum.

nexus_ss2

Installing Google USB Driver

Once unzipped, I ran the SDK Manager under the root of the adt-bundle-windows-x86_64-20140702 folder, the folder name as of version currently available.

In the SDK Manager, I left what was currently checked, scrolled down to Extras, checked the box for Google USB Driver and clicked to install the packages.

When the packages were finished installing, I needed to install the Android USB driver on my system with Windows 7 Professional.

There is a guide for installing the Google USB driver on the various platforms of Windows here.

  1. Click on Start, right-click on Computer and select Manage.
  2. Select Device Manager on the left.
  3. On the right, under list of items under the computer name, look for Other device. It should already be expanded.
  4. Right-click the item name and select Update Driver. This will launch the Hardware Update Wizard.
  5. Select Browse my computer for driver software and click Next.
  6. Click Browse and navigate to the USB driver folder located in <sdk folder location>\extras\google\usb_driver\.) As an example, for me it was D:\adt-bundle-windows-x86_64-20140702\sdk\extras\google\usb_driver.
  7. Click Next to install the driver.
  8. I rebooted the system but don’t know that I exactly needed to.

Next I downloaded the factory image from Android Nexus images page under Factory Images “nakasi” for Nexus 7 (Wi-Fi) and then 5.0 (LRX21P) and unzipped it to the root of my D: drive (D:\nakasi-lrx21p-factory-93daa4d3) as well.

nexus_ss1

Add folder to Path System Variables

Now, I needed to start my Nexus in fastboot mode and opted to use the keys on the tablet rather than the adb tool in the Android SDK.

I know I’m going to use that tool later and opted to enter its folder location in my PATH system variable so I can run adb commands no matter what folder I was in.

I powered off my Nexus 7 and then pressed the volume up/down and power buttons at the same time until I saw the fastboot screen.

Opening a command console (CMD) as administrator on my computer I typed in the command to unlock the boot loader (This erases all data on the device):

At command line: fastboot oem unlock

I could see the confirmation on my Nexus 7 and saw the red text at lower left reflected it is now unlocked.

Next, in the command console window I navigated to the system image directory I unzipped earlier (for me D:\nakasi-lrx21p-factory-93daa4d3\nakasi-lrx21p) and typed the fast install command which started the flash process of the 5.0 image to my Nexus and waited out the process until it was done.

At command line: flash-all.bat

When the flash process is finished the command prompt will show to click any key to finish, the Nexus rebooted and I had a nice clean version of 5.0 Lollipop.

Before doing anything I re-locked the boot loader by turning off the tablet, booting to fastboot mode and from the command prompt issuing the command

At command line: fastboot oem lock

The text at the lower left confirms the lock was successful.

 

Resources

https://developer.android.com/sdk

https://developers.google.com/android/nexus/images

http://developer.android.com/tools/device.html

http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=1907796