HP all in one fails sound driver & webcam driver installation on Windows 8.1

Nothing taunts a systems administrator like a yellow exclamation triangle in device manager.

After an HP all in one computer had been worked on to remedy another issue, the only problem that remained was no sound & no webcam. And that stupid little yellow symbol. This appeared after Windows Updates had automatically updated the operating system from Windows 8 to Windows 8.1.

I tried all the usual suspects – disable the driver, uninstall the driver, try to update the driver (already the latest version), install the Realtek High Definition Audio driver directly from the Realtek website, disable the anti virus software etc etc.

Every time, after each reboot, device manager taunted me with that little yellow symbol.

Then, on a whim, I did two things:

1. Bumped the User Account Control setting right down to the bottom.

2. From a command prompt running as administrator, executed an sfc /scannow

Uninstalled sound & webcam drivers, rebooted …. no more triangle. Tested Windows sounds to heard those glorious little noises!

sfc (system file checker) is a magical utility that fixes some system file issues. It’s as magical as chkdsk /r

And because I don’t like dumbing down security protection, I reset the UAC level back to what it was by default, rebooted and re-tested successfully.

Who would have thought that sfc would fix a sound driver problem?

-SCuffy

Fixing Code 19 error in device manager for CD/DVD drive – configuration information (in the registry) is incomplete or damaged

Windows XP laptop with a DVD writer not working – can’t see or play CDs or DVDs, not even appearing as a drive letter.

Device manager shows the drive with an exclamation mark and the error:
“Windows cannot start this hardware device because its configuration information (in the registry) is incomplete or damaged. To fix this problem you should uninstall and then reinstall the hardware device. (Code 19)”

The troubleshooter suggest uninstalling & reinstalling the device, which gives exactly the same error. Updating drivers & windows etc didn’t help. It was hard to find any information on this message that actually related to the registry.

Until I found an article with a link to this Microsoft support article: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/929461
The article had the fix – remove the UpperFilters registry entry and hey presto, we’re back in business.

It’s a pity that this support article doesn’t actually include one of the common symptoms (being the above error message) which makes it very hard to find when searching for the error message. Posting this here to help link the two, in case anyone else is pulling their hair out or thinks they have faulty hardware.

-SCuffy

P.S. Most common cause? Unclean uninstall of DVD writing software.

To the cloud .. or not? (A personal account)

To the cloud .. or not? (A personal account)

This isn’t intended as a comprehensive argument on how to evaluate if Cloud Computing is right for you or not.  I’ve written it to show where we use Cloud Computing in our own business, and where we don’t.  As most of my readers aren’t IT Providers, you may find something relevant in this, or you may not.  But I’m a firm believer in recommending the best solution to a client for their individual needs, so our own decision on Cloud Computing has been based on our current business needs.

To the Cloud … Website, System Monitoring, Ticketing & Job Management

Website – We have our own server, and it currently hosts our http://www.ctaspley.com.au website (as at Feb 2012).  We did this because we could, when we started our business nearly 8 years ago. It gave us full control of the website and a chance to practice with website publishing, in an environment that wasn’t too critical (and was backed up).  Since then, our franchise has developed WordPress sites with common themes on a hosted server at another location.  I’m slowly customising (re-writing) the content of those pages and when I’m happy with it, we’ll change our website address to point to this new site.  Our website will then be ‘in the Cloud’ .. so to speak.  The downside? I won’t have full control over all of the design elements. But you know what – I don’t really care. I’m happy with the structure and as long as I can update the content to suit, I don’t need to change the design.  In this case, we are the exception to the rule, as most businesses don’t host their own website anyway.  And if you did want full design control, there are plenty of hosting companies that will let you have that.

System Monitoring –  Now we use some pretty amazing software that monitor’s the health of our client’s computer systems, especially those errors that are screaming silently into the event log. Our access to this is through the Internet to a server managed by a fellow Computer Troubleshooter in New Zealand, who also provides access to North America and the UK.  Whilst the company we buy this software from doesn’t have this internet hosting capability, our NZ group have paved the way for our global franchisees to use this in the Cloud. Once again, I have no control over the server. Once again, I don’t care. As the information on this system is only really useful when it’s real-time, it will re-generate on the current status of the systems when it comes back up.  There are also other monitoring providers that have cloud-based systems as an option (or the only option).

Ticketing & Job Management – Details of our work, including billing hours, are stored in a cloud-based system. This is far more advanced that the previous in-house effort, for a fraction of the cost, plus it has the advantage of the input from thousands of other IT providers in terms of functionality requests, bug reports etc.  At worst, we stand to lose our historical data to some extent – the data centre has hourly backups and offsite backup storage. This information is transferred to our accounting software too, so we have two sources (one in-house, one in-cloud) of our billing information.  And once again, as long as the system works, I’m happy to do the data entry and let the provider take care of the systems administration.

Not in the Cloud … Financial software, Applications, Email and File storage

Financial software –  Our financial software is something that I would have considered using a Cloud-based version of. The problem is that Cloud versions are not compatible with the integration we get from our Job Management software. In English, if I do a job and bill some time, I can transfer that invoice directly to the financial software installed on my PC. I can’t transfer it to a Cloud-based financial system.  So, to save double data entry, the financial software is staying on my PC.

Applications & Email – As an IT Provider, we’re fortunate to get a great deal from Microsoft on their computer software. This includes the latest versions of pretty much anything, so we can use them, learn them and recommend them.  And while some may argue that many Cloud apps are free, I like my Microsoft benefits and most of my clients run Microsoft software too.  It’s a bit hard for me to troubleshoot or duplicate an Outlook\Exchange problem if I use gmail, or a Word problem if I use OpenOffice. Ever heard the term ‘eat your own dog food’?

File storage – Our files are on our server, because we could. Once again, we had the means to have our own server, support it ourselves and experiment with it. Primarily, it provided our email, website, file storage and printing.  We could also experiment with it. So it made little sense to place our file storage in the Cloud, with our local server handling the job quite nicely and also giving us remote access to these files from the Internet anyway.  Yes, it’s backed up.

We did contemplate switching our server to ‘play only’ mode – making it a box that we ran up when we needed it, instead of it being on 24×7. After moving our website, we could have setup a print server box, a Network Attached Storage device (NAS) for our files (or gone Cloud), and moved our email back to our franchise headquarters (as a POP only service, which would have limited some of our functionality).  But we like having a server because it keeps our skills current.

So, as you can see, it is possible to run a mix of in-house and Cloud IT solutions in your business.  You have to weigh up the pros and cons of each, and also look at the big picture. What’s the point in moving to Cloud for email if you still have a server doing file and print?  Where do you think you will save money? If you think that IT support is expensive, have you looked into a Managed Service (with a fixed price and a results focus) instead of support at an hourly rate?

I’m not saying ‘don’t investigate the Cloud’. It’s enabled us with some capabilities that would have been significantly more expensive to do in-house.  And that’s where I think it absolutely rocks for small businesses.

If you want to look at Cloud Computing, make an informed decision that looks at the bigger picture of your business needs, your current IT infrastructure and your support costs.  Whatever route you decide to go, as long as it supports and enhances those three principles, you’ll be on the right track.

Cloud computing picture

-SCuffy.

BigPond ADSL – Your ADSL Service Cancellation Notice email

Disturbing email doing the rounds over the long Easter weekend in Australia, pretending to be from BigPond. I’m blogging about this in the hope that you’ll find this entry if you receive that email and Google it first.  It’s a scam, and a very clever one.

First the details: sender address ebilling@bt.com (that’s your first alarm bell-bt.com is not a bigpond or telstra domain name)

Subject: Your ADSL Service Cancellation Notice (second alarm bell – I am not and have never been a BigPond ADSL customer)

Text: Dear BigPond User,

Telstra BigPond is sending you this e-mail to inform you that our service to you could be suspended. This might be due to either one of the following reasons:

1. You have changed your billing address.

2. You have Submitted incorrect information during bill payment process. (third alarm bell – bad english & capital letter in middle of sentence)

3. Your credit/debit card has expired.

4. You didnt update your bigpons profile. (fourth alarm bell-missing apostrophe and now bigpond has lost its capitals)

According to above(more bad english), and to ensure that your service is not interrupted, we request you to confirm and update your billing information now BY CLICKING HERE. (another alarm bell-Telstra will never ask you to do this and definately never in capitals)

If you have already confirmed your billing information then please disregard this message as we are processing the changes you have made.

Regards,

Telstra

Billing Department

Thanks for your co-operation

Accounts Management As outlined in our User Agreement, Telstra (r) will periodically send you information about site changes and enhancements.

OK, so there are a few things in there to make you question the email, but the real surprise is the lengths they have gone to with the fake website, and what they have the cheek to ask you for.  When you click on the link, you are taken to a page that looks very much like a Telstra website:

The logo is there and the links at the bottom even point to pages on the real Telstra website.  But the big alarm bell here is this statement: “This is a secure page. Telstra has implemented SSL security technology designed to prevent unauthorised people from reading this page, or the information you send to us via this page.”  Ah no, actually that page is not secured by an SSL certificate, as the address at the top does not appear as https:// and there’s no little golden locked padlock showing in my browser.

So let’s see how far we can push this thing?  Enter a username & password – just anything, make it up .. and you get to page 2 – Thank you for confirming your identity.  And now the fun begins. They want your name, credit card details, billing address, phone number, home phone, date of birth and drivers license number.  Excuse me? I don’t think so.

So we make up some more fake info and submit it, and we get a short confirmation page which then redirects us to the real Telstra website.

Apart from wondering how on earth it can validate a completely made-up username and password, there are elements in there to really make you think it is legitimate.  The site is hosted by e3event.com which is in Indian company.  I’ve forwarded this email to Telstra to get their comment, but I’m betting my money it’s a fake. And if it is, it’s a good one.

The best scammers know that instead of spending their time trying to break technology’s security measures, they just need to take advantage of our human nature and gain our trust. With a few chosen words and a carefully placed logo, we believe they are Telstra and we’re going to lose our internet connection. The easiest way for them to gain access to your personal information is for them to to ask you for it. 

Another concern is the timing of this. It was reported to a few Computer Troubleshooters franchisees as appearing over the Easter long weekend, which was a 5 day public holiday in Australia this year due to the ANZAC Day commemoration.  The billing departments of all corporations were closed (internet providers only run technical support on weekends) and who wants to be without their internet for 5 days because you decided to wait & phone Telstra to check it out first?

So, now you’ve been warned, and you’ve seen why I think this is a scam. I’ll let you know Telstra’s reply when I get it (hopefully tomorrow – at 9pm their privacy department isn’t open).

-SCuffy

Issues with security update patch for IE7 WinXP KB2416400?

Our friends at the Kaseya NOC have decided not to rollout out a Microsoft security patch just released for Internet Explorere 7 machines (on Windows XP).  They’ve seen some issues once it’s been installed and there are a few blog sites with people reporting problems.  Suggest hold off installing this one for a while until it’s sorted:

“Post: We have noticed that after applying the patch KB2416400 (MS10-090), when browsing a particular site, all links stop working following clicking a link to open a java script pop-up window. Hitting F-5 to reload the page restores functionality of the links. So to avoid this miss-functionality we have denied this patch from all Virtual Manage machines.

http://social.answers.microsoft.com/Forums/en-US/InternetExplorer/thread/eec87070-61eb-4fbd-aa45-911206f7039b

https://blogs.technet.com/b/wsus/archive/2010/12/16/important-questions-regarding-ms10-090-kb2416400-internet-explorer-cumulative-security-update.aspx

https://blogs.technet.com/b/sus/archive/2010/12/16/update-on-a-couple-issues-we-are-seeing-related-to-detection-and-installation-of-ms10-090-kb2416400.aspx

-SCuffy

Attention!!!! All your personal files were encrypted with a strong algorythm RSA-1024 …

.. and you can’t get an access to them without making of what we need!

Read ‘How to decrypt’ txt-file on your desktop for details

Just do it as fast as you can!

Remember: Don’t try to tell someone about this message if you want to get your files back! Just do all we told.

*Eeek*  If your computer’s desktop has suddenly turned very pale and is displaying the above message, I hope you have a good backup*.

Computer Troubleshooters franchisees started to see reports of this from November 25, 2010.  The virus ‘Trojan.Ransom-U’ is ransomware – it hijacks your files and renders them unreadable, threatening to delete them completely unless you wire transfer $120 and email datafinder@fastmail.fm  The ransom note is contained in the How to decrypt files.txt file on your desktop.

Your virus scanning software may detect a strangley named executable file (.exe), where the name is a random string of  numbers and/or letters. 

At the time of writing (Nov 29 2010 AEST), there is no known way to clean or un-encrypt your files.  The only recovery steps are to turn off Windows System Restore, scan and clean your computer in safe mode and restore your files from your last known-working backup. 

If you are fortunate enough to be reading this BEFORE your own PC has become a victim, follow the advice from Lloyd Borrett for AVG to secure your Adobe Acrobat PDF Reader software, with a few changes to its settings: https://ctaspley.wordpress.com/2010/08/24/protect-your-pc-against-adobe-pdf-reader-security-flaws/

Oh, and make sure your backup is working 🙂

*  For single PCs, we recommend Carbonite Online Backup

Protect your PC Against Adobe PDF Reader Security Flaws

Not an original blog entry this time, but advice definately worth sharing from the security experts at AVG – thanks Lloyd!

Melbourne and Amsterdam, 13 August 2010 – It should go without saying that the best way to deal with malware is, of course, not to get infected in the first place.

Lloyd Borrett, Security Evangelist for AVG (AU/NZ) says, “Being aware of what products are being targeted by the bad guys may help you as well, so it may be useful to know that at the moment Adobe products are virtually the number one target across the world with millions of PCs being hit by infected Adobe PDFs. Others are being pwned via Adobe Flash ads via Facebook and other social media web sites.”

Attackers send a file that has malicious code embedded in it. Once the file is opened, the computer is infected, typically with some form of identity theft malware that then steals data.

The Adobe PDF and Adobe Flash browser plug-ins are also used in “drive-by download” attacks where malware is downloaded onto the PC while the user is surfing the web.

“Adobe products, just like Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office, have near universal use on home and business computers making these applications prime targets for the bad guys,” Borrett continues. “Unfortunately, since the bad guys realised this and turned their attention to finding security holes in them, they have been very successful.”

Of course, the easiest way to avoid the risk of being compromised via these Adobe products is not to install them! However, this is virtually impossible for most home and business Internet users.

So if you must use Adobe Reader, then please take the time to secure it.

How to secure Adobe Reader  

  1. Open the Adobe Reader application and choose ‘Edit’ and then ‘Preferences’.
  2. On the left you will see several different categories of options to modify.
  3. Under the ‘JavaScript’ category there is a checkbox ‘Enable Acrobat JavaScript’. Make sure this checkbox is not ticked/selected so that you disable Adobe Reader’s ability to run dangerous JavaScript from a PDF.
  4. Under the ‘Security’ category, to specify that digital signatures are handled securely make sure the ‘Verify signatures when the document is opened’ checkbox is ticked/selected.
  5. Under the ‘Security (Enhanced)’ category, make sure the ‘Enable Enhanced Security’ checkbox is selected to help with data protection and privacy.
  6. Under the ‘Trust Manager’ category we’d recommend you disable Acrobat’s ability to call external applications to handle non-PDF file attachments. So, after the ‘PDF File Attachments’ heading, make sure the ‘Allow opening of non-PDF file attachments with external applications’ checkbox is not ticked/selected.
  7. Then click on ‘OK’ to exit changing the preferences.

Adobe is working to address the security vulnerabilities in its products, so it’s vital to make sure you regularly check for updates to Adobe Reader, Adobe Flash and other Adobe applications. Turn on the automatic updates so that your Adobe software stays up-to-date.

Borrett adds, “And also don’t forget to install a complete security suite solution like AVG Internet Security that will provide you with total protection as you work, shop, bank and play games online.” 

AVG (AU/NZ) has a comprehensive range of security tips for home and business users on its web site at www.avg.com.au/resources/security-tips/.

About AVG (AU/NZ) Pty Ltdwww.avg.com.au

Based in Melbourne, AVG (AU/NZ) Pty Ltd distributes the AVG range of Anti-Virus and Internet Security products in Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific. AVG software solutions provide complete real-time protection against the malware, viruses, spam, spyware, adware, worms, Trojans, phishing and exploits used by cyber-criminals, hackers, scammers and identity thieves. AVG protects everything important and personal inside computers — documents, account details and passwords, music, photos and more — all while allowing users to work, bank, shop and play games online in safety. 

AVG provides outstanding technical solutions and exceptional value for consumers, small to medium business and enterprise clients. AVG delivers always-on, always up-to-date protection across desktop, and notebook PCs, plus file and e-mail servers in the home and at work in SMBs, corporations, government agencies and educational institutions.

Talk to Us

Siobhan MacDermott

AVG Technologies – Investor Relations

E-mail: siobhan.macdermott@avg.com

US Mobile: +1 415 299 2945

For more detailed information please contact:

Lloyd Borrett         AVG (AU/NZ)      03 9581 0807

Shuna Boyd         BoydPR      02 9418 8100