My Thoughts On IT…

Brian Lewis's Thoughts on all things Information Technology related

Windows-10-icon-blueIf you were an a Windows 10 insider, as it was being developed, you got new builds of Windows all the time. It was easy to see what build you were running because it was displayed in the bottom right corner of your desktop. But as of build 10240 it’s not there so how do you know what build you are running?

There are multiple ways to accomplish this. Here are the three that come to my mind:

Steps Result (click to enlarge)
Use winver.exe

Click the Start Button and type “winver” and hit [enter].

You’ll get a windows dialog box that shows the details about your windows operating system.

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From the command prompt

Click the Start Button and type “cmd.exe” and hit enter.

From the command prompt type “ver” and hit  [enter]

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Check the Registry

Click the Start Button and type “regedt32.exe” and hit enter.

In the registry editor tool brows to the hive:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion

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Have you ever wondered why you see two desktop.ini files on your Windows desktop? I had a customer ask me this question yesterday and I thought I would share the answer for those of you who always wondered but never “Binged” why.

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These files are hidden system files and by default. This means that they are hidden from your view unless you turn on “Show hidden files, folders, and drives” and uncheck “Hide protected operating system files”. This is done from the control panel and highlighted in the above photo in red. 

Also, as you probably remember, you can not have two files located in the same directory with the same name. So what give here? The files are not in the same directory. They are located in two folders. One is located in the “C:\Users\<User Name>\Desktop” folder, and the other one is located in the “C:\Users\Public\Desktop” folder. They are merged by the desktop UI

So, that is why you have two desktop.ini files on your Desktop.

For more information about the desktop.ini file what they are used for and how to use them to customize your system – check out these two articles on MSDN. Take special note of the second one – you can set a folder to launch an executable when clicked! I bet virus writers notice that one already.

Cheers,
Brian

How to Customize Folders with Desktop.ini
https://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windows/desktop/cc144102(v=vs.85).aspx

How to Implement Custom Verbs for Folders through Desktop.ini
https://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windows/desktop/hh127441(v=vs.85).aspx

18dd99b7-df6d-4c12-b0b6-8f0254aac9f6-mediumDoes one of your Datacenters look like this lovely server closet with the toilet right there? No, that’s not photo shopped. Fact is often stranger than fiction.

Get a real remote datacenter by using Azure! Have you heard of the hybrid cloud? Come find out how to use the Microsoft Azure Cloud as one of your datacenters that allows you to spin up servers at your leisure!

You can get hybrid-ready at a free IT Camp in your local area! In this immersive, full-day training session, you’ll learn how to move your IT workloads from on-premises to the cloud and back again. You’ll also see how Microsoft Azure supports powerful virtualization, on-demand application scaling, complete data control, and the fastest customer response times around.

From your first cup of coffee until the moment we pull the power cords, you’ll enjoy lively demos and hands-on instruction from experts who will show you how to expand your IT options without adding unnecessary complexity. Here are just a few of the topics we’ll cover:

  • Overview of what is Available to you in the Azure cloud
  • Migration of on-premises virtualization to Azure Virtual Machines, Apps, and Storage
  • ADFS on Microsoft Azure and Office 365 Integration, including Multi-Factor authentication
  • Microsoft Azure for Test, Development, and Production (IaaS)
  • Disaster Recovery – How to backup to the Cloud!

Don’t miss this free event in your local area – regardless of whether you’re new to the cloud, or you currently use an on-premises, hybrid or fully cloud-based solution. All IT Pros are welcome!

*** Just added come get an update on Windows 10 which will ship July 29th, 2015***

Find an event near you! (http://aka.ms/itcampevent)

Microsoft IT Camps
Events run from 9am‒4pm
Cost: Free!

wordpress_logoAnyone using a WordPress website needs to be aware of this current security issue and take immediate action to ensure your website is secure. It has been found that a lot of Plugins and Themes are vulnerable to Cross-site Scripting (XSS) due to the misuse of two coding functions.
(the add_query_arg() and remove_query_arg() functions)

What should I do?

Well you could review the code and search for the two functions listed above. Then make sure it is properly escaped or you could just – Update, Update, Update, Patch, Patch, Patch… Smile

You should make sure your site is updated to WordPress 4.2.1 or later and make sure your plugins and themes are also up to date. I will go further and say I strongly recommend continuing to check for updates over the next few weeks.

More details are available via the following links:

VeraCrypt

I have been fascinated and a fan of encryption for years. The first encryption I used was PGP. The history of PGP encryption started back in 1991 and is interesting. I became more interested in February of 1993 when Phil Zimmermann became the formal target of a criminal investigation by the US Government for “munitions export without a license”. That’s right, encryption was classified as munitions. If you want more information on that story you will need to search the web or checkout the snipit in Wikipedia. If that story interests you, a more recent similar story is the Lavabit story…

I was a big fan of PGP desktop and PGP disk which let me add an encrypted container as a virtual disk. I used this until I found the open source TrueCrypt package which which worked similar to PGP disk. So I have been using TrueCrypt since some time in 2005. I have been very happy with the package and as far as I know my data has been secure.

On May 28th 2014, the TrueCrypt website announced that the project was no longer maintained and recommended users to find alternative solutions. It also had a cloak and dagger hidden message that TrueCrypt was no longer secure due to the NSA. For more on the TrueCrypt story you can read about it in Wikipedia here or see the current TrueCrypt page here. Since the developers of TrueCrypt are unknown we are not able to find out exactly what is going on here, but I now need to find a replacement.

Since the source code was available it is possible for others to continue where TrueCrypt left off and there are two projects that are looking to do just that. One is VeraCrypt headquartered in France and the other is Ciphershed headquarter in Switzerland.

VeraCrypt has had several releases and looks to be the most responsive. They have made several improvements to enhance encryption security and are now able to convert the old format to their new format. They are currently on version 1.0f-2 and this is the package that I am going to try. I will update this article on my experience with VeraCrypt. You can get the software and more information at the links below. If you run it let me know what you think. – Cheers.

I am on a plane returning to the Midwest from Redmond Washington and wanted share what an awesome experience I just had. I was just at a Microsoft sponsored Hackathon that was held at Microsoft’s “Garage”. The Garage is a magical place where you can learn new technical things and build new technical gadgets.

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One of the best amazing things at the Garage is the “Makers Garage”. This is a space that makes anyone who has a workroom start to drool. It is a workroom on steroids that is basically a makers space with all kinds of tools and a few toys that people have built. There are hand tools, 3D printers, a laser cutter, a drill press, an Oscilloscope, and other tools. In addition to a vast array of tools there are all kinds of parts. From nuts and bolts to breadboards and electronic parts. There are bins of motors, servos, transistors, LEDs, timer ICs, resisters, and much more. All these parts are there for the taking for the project you are working on. Just like it is your own workroom! There were also some cool projects and toys people built sitting around the Garage. The photo of the robot below is one of the things just sitting around.

At this hackaton we were broken into three groups and worked on three different projects

  • GroupA – Build something with Azure HD Insight / Hadoop – a big data project
  • GroupB – Build something with WinJS
  • GroupC – Build and IoT Project

The groups built some really cool stuff – I was on the IoT team and it has me really interested in building out some IoT projects of my own. I am sure you will see these on this blog at a future date. I was especially impressed with what the big data group built with Azure HD insight – in just one day they had an awesome app that did a twitter DVR. It was really impressive, cool, and usable.

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P.S. A few of us stopped by Bungie while we were out in Redmond. The Master Chief wanted to take a photo with me as you can see below… We also played foosball until a large Security guard kicked us out. Microsoft doesn’t own Bungie anymore. Opps Smile

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I just had the biggest technical pain that I have had in the past year. I download the update Windows8.1-KB3000850-x64 which is over 700meg.  I have attempted the install from both Windows update and from downloading it from here. It always would proceed fine and then need to reboot the machine. During the reboot it gets to 8% of install then it goes to another screen that states that, “Couldn’t Complete the Updates Undoing Changes.” After it backs out the changes it restarts fine.

Many other people have had problems with this patch. Some of them were able to fix it by running these two commands from an elevated command prompt.

Command Description
SFC.exe /Scannow Description of the System File Checker Tool (Sfc.exe) https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/kb/185836
DISM.exe /Online /Cleanup-image /Restorehealth Fix Windows corruption errors by using the DISM or System Update Readiness tool https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/kb/947821/en-us?wa=wsignin1.0

This didn’t fix my system
My system still had the issue – it got to 8% and then failed. Turns out that my system was having issues because I have the Kodak Hero printer driver installed. If you have a Kodak Hero Printer and have this patch issue this is more than a coincidence. This is your problem with this patch, however; removing this printer does not fix the issue.

To Fix this issue
You need to create two folders and then place two files in these folders.
Create these two folders:
– C:\Windows\System32\DriverStore\FileRepository\wiaek002.inf_amd64_57f9361b96ceea4b
– C:\Windows\System32\DriverStore\FileRepository\prnekcl2.inf_amd64_59438dc7ce792b20

Copy these files into each folder created above
– C:\Windows\Inf\wiaek002.inf
– C:\Windows\Inf\prnekcl2.inf

You can cut and paste the commands below to do the work for you.

Execute these commands in an elevated PowerShell or CMD prompt 

mkdir C:\Windows\System32\DriverStore\FileRepository\wiaek002.inf_amd64_57f9361b96ceea4b
copy C:\Windows\Inf\wiaek002.inf C:\Windows\System32\DriverStore\FileRepository\wiaek002.inf_amd64_57f9361b96ceea4b

mkdir C:\Windows\System32\DriverStore\FileRepository\prnekcl2.inf_amd64_59438dc7ce792b20
copy prnekcl2.inf C:\Windows\System32\DriverStore\FileRepository\prnekcl2.inf_amd64_59438dc7ce792b20

All Done Smile

That should take care of it. Run the patch from either the download or Windows update.

Enjoy
– Brian

 

What to do if that doesn’t fix it?

That should take care of it for you. If that doesn’t take care of it then you will need to start over. Take a look at the logs.

  • C:\Windows\Logs\CBS\CBS log
  • C:\Windows\Logs\DISM\dism log

Read the threads like this one:
windows_update/windows-update-error-kb3000850-couldnt-complete/849cfb0c-0f78-49f7-abad-d2c6920269f5

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Microsoft has announced a new Surface 3! This is not the Surface 3 Pro, it is a newer Surface geared at a lower price point and better battery life. The consumer version list price starts at $499. It runs the new Intel Atom x7 processor that sips battery power while giving lots of computing power!

The Surface 3 is the thinnest, lightest Surface ever made to date, also coming soon with 4G LTE! Here are some specific details for you to ponder:

  • The thinnest and lightest Surface ever built! Only 0.34” thin and1.37 pounds!
  • Best camera ever on Surface! 8MP rear facing camera with auto focus (great for capturing images of documents and bar codes). 
  • Brightest Surface display ever. 10.8”, a 3:2 aspect ratio, 1920 x 1280 resolution and the brightest display we’ve ever made makes Surface 3 easier to see in sunlight.
  • Runs desktop applications. Runs full Windows 8.1. Powered by the latest Quad Core Intel® Atom™ x7 Z8700 processor – 80% as fast as the Surface Pro 3 i3.
  • Micro USB for charging.  Open up a new world of battery charging and back-up battery accessories. Charge your phone and your Surface with the same charger.
  • All day battery life. Up to10 hours of battery life allow you work through the day.
  • 4G LTE: Surface 3 will be available with LTE!

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The Surface 3 is powerful and efficient, it comes with full Windows, and a one year subscription to Office 365 Personal while giving you all-day battery life.

Powered by the new quad-core Intel® Atom™ x7 processor, Surface 3 is quick and responsive but designed to maximize efficiency with up to 10 hours of battery life. A range of storage and memory configurations gives people choice in power and capacity. The beautiful 10.8-inch ClearType HD multi-touch display features a 3:2 aspect ratio with front facing stereo speakers with Dolby® enhanced audio.

It also has an optional Docking Station that enables you to go from tablet to desktop workstation. The docking station has a gigabit Ethernet port, a Mini DisplayPort for an external HD monitor and four USB ports.

The Surface 3 and new accessories are available for preorder starting at just $499 through microsoftstore.com, Microsoft stores and select partner retailers in our existing markets. Through those same retailers and resellers, customers can begin purchasing Surface 3 and accessories with availability in all existing markets by May 5.

ATM Route

I try to be safe and not use ATM machines in untrusted places but my bank is a trusted place, right? Well, after seeing the two devices below, I now have a new appreciation for the ability criminals have to fool me.

The Skimmer
First a criminal would need to get a copy of the magnetic strip on my ATM card and for that they use a skimmer. While that may be easy with some untrusted ATM in a shady bar, you would not think they could pull this off at a reputable bank. Especially your bank that you always go to. Look below at one of the skimmers a criminal attached to the outside of a normal ATM reader. When you insert your card it gets read twice. Once by the ATM and once by the skimmer. I may just tug on the next ATM card reader that I use just to make sure it doesn’t come off.

The Camera
Next they need your PIN. The easiest way to get your PIN is with a hidden camera. Watch out for mirrors that could have a camera behind it. Just like with the skimmer above you need to examine the ATM. If you look close at the photo below you can see the grey bar that looks like a piece of the ATM machine.  It’s not. It is a pin hole camera that someone placed on the ATM machine to steal customers PINs. That camera would capture your pin nicely and even when you use your body block twist motion so others can’t see. I would have never noticed it, would you?

Here is a look at the back of the camera after it was pulled down…

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The moral of this story, don’t just watch out for criminals who will physically take your money at the ATM but also beware of the electronic tools thieves use at the ATM.

I was trying to add an Office plugin to my system but I needed to know if I was running the 32 bit or 64 bit version of Office 2013. I assumed I could just click on “help” and then “about” to get my answer. That was kinda the answer but it took me forever to find it and I didn’t find any good answers when I searched for it. So I created this post to hopefully save you time and aggravation!

Question:
How do I tell if I have 32bit or 64 bit office 2013 installed?

Answer:
Click the series here:  File – Account – About Word.

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That then brings up the window you need:

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There is my answer! I am running 32 bit Office on my 64bit Windows 8.1 machine.

Cheers! –Brian