Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

How To Remove Windows 8 From Dual-boot (or Multiboot) Machines

Easily Remove Windows 8 Beta from Your PC

The time has come for me to uninstall Windows 8 Developer Preview (I just could not adapt to Metro). Here’s how I did it.

To test out the new Windows operating system, I had created a 3rd partition on the machine’s hard drive and installed the Win8 DP there. The other 2 partitions held a Vista and a Win 7 operating system. My concerns about removing Win 8 centered on the fact that Windows 8 had installed its own bootloader — would simply deleting the (Win8) partition prevent the other OSes from booting? To eliminate that possibility, I started the operation by editing the machine’s BCD file ¹.

** Backup Your Important Files To Another Location Before Doing Things Like This! **

1) Download BootICE (or EasyBCD) and extract it. ¹ It is a “portable” app, so you can run it from a thumb drive, or your Desktop. Double-click to Run (aka Open) the bootice.exe file.

2) Click on the BCD Edit tab, then click the “View / Edit” button.

3) In the left column, click on the “Windows 8” entry and turn it blue (aka “select” it)…

.. and then click the “Del” (delete) button.

4) Reboot the machine. You should now see the old style multi-boot menu. Choose one of your older OSes (in my case, I chose Windows 7).

5) Now you can go into Disk Management and delete the partition where you had installed Windows 8, and reclaim the space it took up.

5a) Press the Windows Key + “R” key to launch a Run dialogue box, and type “diskmgmt.msc” (no quotes) into the run box.

5b) Right-click on the appropriate drive in the list, and click on the Delete Volume option in the context menu. You will be prompted and warned that all data will be lost, select “Yes” to continue. (You did make a copy of anything important, right?)

5c) You should now see “empty” space.. and the top bar has turned black. Right-click on the the partition the partition with the blue header, directly before it, and select Extend Volume from the context menu.

A “wizard” will open – simply click “next”, “next”, OK.

That’s it. You’re done. Windows 8 is gone, and your machine is back to how it was before you installed the beta.

¹ Note: This is for machines where at least one of the other operating systems is Vista/Win 7 (which uses a bcd boot loader). If the only other OS in your multiboot setup is XP, you might try the msconfig method instead of Steps 1 – 3. A tutorial for that is here.

 Today’s quote:A man who carries a cat by the tail learns something he can learn in no other way.” ~ Mark Twain

Copyright 2007-2012 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.

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All we really have, in the end, are our stories.
Make yours great ones. Ones to be proud of.

May 17, 2012 Posted by | advice, computers, how to, Microsoft, PC, tech, Windows 8 | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Flash Cookies Devouring Your Privacy

“..Flash cookies may be making an end run around your attempts to preserve your privacy…”

In a world run by advertising revenue.. the online marketers (hello, Google) are determined to “profile” you, track your online habits, and serve you “targeted” ads.

So, we “consumers” (and yes, that’s how us “average computer users” are viewed) have had to become adept at blocking “cookies”, installing Ad Block programs, and adjusting our “Privacy settings”.

Fact is, we’ve become pretty good at it. So the advertisers had to develop, better, harder to prevent methods at tracking us, and getting their ads to pop open so we can see them (and ignore them).
(Are you thinking of advertising on the Internet? Paying for ads? Good luck with that..).

One such method they’ve developed is the “Flash cookie” (or, “LSO”) which actually uses Adobe’s Flash Player as a conduit.
If you have ever watched a “video” on YouTube, you know what Flash Player is.

If you are at all concerned about your privacy, or simply want to prevent the Big Brother aspect of the Internet, I suggest you read Are Flash Cookies Devouring Your Privacy?

Even if you delete normal tracking cookies regularly to evade tracking by snooping sites and eager advertisers, little-known Flash cookies may be making an end run around your attempts to preserve your privacy.” Read more..

Here you will learn about the Flash Player “control panel“, and the settings you need to adjust to gain back some of your privacy.

looks like loads of fun, doesn’t it? Well, that’s why most of us don’t bother, and the concept of privacy is becoming obsolete.. and when you really think about our “tech”, you might think Orwell’s 1984 was tame by comparison.

So, if you don’t use Firefox, and have the BetterPrivacy add-on (I also reco TACO) you will want to read the article, click the link, and tweak a setting or two.
If you think your right-to-privacy is more important than advertisers getting their way, that is.

Today’s quote:Looking at the proliferation of personal web pages on the Net, it looks like very soon everyone on Earth will have 15 megabytes of fame.” ~ M.G. Sriram

Copyright 2007-2011 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.

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January 4, 2012 Posted by | advice, Firefox, Internet, privacy | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Reader Asks, What Is “Thumbs.db”?

Reader Question Answered

Q:Hi Paul. I have a quick question. Sometimes when I am copying my files from one place to another I get stopped by a message about a file called thumbs.db. I have seen this file sometimes and often wondered what it is because I did not put it there. Is it safe to delete it? Thank you

A: Sir or Ms,
The Thumbs is short for “thumbnails”, and the .db is short for “database”. In Windows XP and older, the operating system will create a Thumbs.db file in any folder containing images – basically a way for the machine to “remember” how to render the ‘thumbnail view’ of that folder, so that the next time you open it the small image previews can load much, much faster (called a “cache”).
In short – it is a performance enhancing “system file”.

If you delete it, the machine will just create a new one. And, it will have to re-figure out how to render the thumbnails the next time you open that folder.. not a “big deal” but it will slow things down for a bit. (So, no, even though it is ‘safe’, deleting Thumbs.db is not recommended.)

When you are copying a folder to another place (say.. you are making a backup), and get a Thumbs.db “what should I do?” message, place a check in the “Do this for all” checkbox and click the “Skip” button. That will allow the copy command ‘batch job’ to complete, and you will get your files copied over.. minus the thumbnail cache (which you don’t need a copy of).

Today’s Tech News Tidbit: Netflix scraps
In a move that can only be described as a Let’s Remove Our Head From Our Derriere: due to “negative feedback”, Netflix announced yesterday that it’s dropping its plan to split its DVD and streaming services into two separate websites. (aka “no Qwikster”)

Today’s free download: Freemake Video Downloader

Download YouTube, Facebook, Megavideo, MTV, Vimeo, Tubeplus and 50+ sites, extract audio from YouTube, convert online videos to AVI, MKV, MP3, iPhone, iPod, PSP, Android with YouTube video downloader from Freemake!

Today’s quotable quote:A person without a sense of humor is like a wagon without springs – jolted by every pebble in the road.” ~ Henry Ward Beecher

Copyright 2007-2011 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.

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October 11, 2011 Posted by | advice, computers, free software | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 28 Comments

What You Need To Know About "Delete"*

Folks, today is a busy day here at Tech–for Everyone Headquarters, and today’s article is a re-posting.

I don’t know how long it was that I worked and played on computers before I truly understood that when I deleted a Word document from my My Documents folder it was not gone forever.

chalkboard_eraser - CopyI believe it was only natural to think it was “deleted”. It was gone, as far as I could tell. It didn’t show up no matter how I searched for it nor how desperately I needed it back. And believe me, there was many a time that I wished I could get a deleted letter or homework assignment back. If I cannot see it…and my machine cannot see it…and my machine says that the space it took up is now ‘free’…it is gone, right? I certainly thought so.

I think it’s rather important that you understand, if you don’t already, that when you drag something into the Recycle Bin, it isn’t really erased. Instead, the name/path entry in the file allocation table (FAT. The directory used to locate and ‘find’ files) is altered in a way that tells Windows to no longer display the file and that this (memory) area is now available for future storage.

The same thing happens when you take the drastic step of formatting your hard drive — it isn’t “wiped” like taking an eraser to a chalkboard: the Master Boot Table and the file directory are similarly altered, and once that occurs the machine can neither find your files nor your operating system — the rest of the 1′s and 0′s are left in place.

It is because of this fact — that files aren’t erased, but their directories and names are altered — that undelete and unformat utilities can perform their miracles. Instead of ignoring or treating these altered entries as writable space, they (attempt to) deliberately seek them out and rename them back to a recognizable formula, which restores the operating system’s (Windows) ability to ‘see’, find, and display them.  (If you need to recover files, please see, How to recover your lost files)

Tip of the day: Never assume that your data has been erased.
In fact, I suggest thinking in an opposite manner: assume that no matter what proactive measures you’ve taken, your data is on that hard drive. Tell yourself that a knowledgeable person with the right tools, if they get their hands on your hard drive, can read it. (There are some people in this industry who insist that your files aren’t really gone until your hard drive has been melted in a blast furnace!) Particularly keep this in mind when the time comes to donate, or otherwise get rid of, your old computer.
this applies to any device with “memory”, such as a cell phone.]

If you are security-conscious, and you want to ensure that when you erase something it’s really and truly erased (or you are about to donate your old PC) I recommend that, if you don’t already have one, you download a free file shredder utility (I will put one as today’s free link) and to choose one that offers multiple methods of shredding.

What a “shredder” does is it writes new data, and it does it in multiple passes. Typically writing all 1′s on one pass, all zeros on the next pass, and then a completely random pattern of 1′s and 0′s, and so on. It is generally recognized that your shredder should make 6-12 passes.

If you do this, you can donate your old PC comfortable in the knowledge that only a several thousand-dollar restoration, performed in a sterile lab, might render your personal information readable again. (If you are a corporation, and it’s time to throw out your old hard drives, and there’s highly sensitive data on those drives, melt them.)

Today’s free download: Zilla Data Nuker 2 (Please note: this program is an exception to my rule of always having run and tested the programs I suggest. I have not ever needed to download a file shredder as I’ve always had one bundled into the Utility Suites I have on my machines. However, this application is 5-star rated by Cnet, and I was unable to locate it on any “blacklists”. It is the one I would try first.) From Cnet, “This powerful program helps you shred important files & folders so that they cannot be restored & prevent attempts to recover sensitive deleted files from your hard drive by data recovery or forensic software. Shredder allows you to purge, wipe & erase data with methods that far exceed US Department of Defence standards for file deletion (DOD 5220.22). Easily automate the cleaning process with batch files, shortcuts and scheduler. Supports complete folder deletions including subfolders.

*Original post: 6/22/07

Copyright 2007-2010 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.

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October 12, 2010 Posted by | computers, file system, how to, PC, privacy, security | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How To Remove Your Name From Search Engines and Social Networking Sites

Your Private Information Made Public

Folks, sometimes it is best to not reinvent the wheel; so today I am going to refer you to three excellent resources for the methods you need to know about if you are concerned about your personal information, and how websites (and the Gov’t) are collecting – and posting – it on the Internet.

If you are serious about protecting your identity and personal security, you should take actions now to block your personal information from public viewing.

Remove Your information from People Search Databases, Social Networks, and Search Engine ResultsJessicaM

Do you know what kind of personal information about you can be found from Internet? Do you know how to remove your name, address, phone number, pictures, bad comments and negative reviews from Google and other search engine results? Do you know how to delete your personal information from online people search database records?

I am putting this one first as it is comprehensive and well researched. It is four pages long, and packed with good info.

How To Permanently Delete Your Account on Popular Websites — Cameron Chapman

What we often don’t realize when signing up for all these accounts, though, is how difficult it can be to permanently delete our accounts when we’ve had enough. Some require complicated, multi-step processes that can stretch over the course of days (or weeks). Others take less time, but still require multiple steps by the user.

This article outlines the steps for removing your account/profile on:
Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, LinkedIn, Google, Ebay, Wikipedia, Flickr/Yahoo!, Windows Live, StumbleUpon, WordPress, Amazon, YouTube, and PayPal.

If you want to stay inconspicuous while online, here are some products, services, and best practices to put to use.
How to Stay Anonymous Online — Erik Griffith

Some might say that the Internet was built on anonymity. Without it, the Internet might not have become what it is today—a place where free speech reigns supreme (maybe to a fault). However, as social networks prevail—and über-companies like Google do all they can to market to you more effectively—your privacy on the Web comes into question. The good news is that you can take back control of what others see and know of you online. Here’s how.

Subtopics: Safe Surfing, Anonymous E-mail, Social (Network) Security

The article contains links to programs and tools you may be interested in.. if your privacy is a concern to you.

Update: Here is another resource, brought to my attention by Rick Robinette:

I came across a really cool site that, if anything, is a real education about online accounts and profiling. The site is called AccountKiller.

AccountKiller – Do you care about your personal data? We provide instructions to remove your account or public profile on most popular websites, including Skype, Facebook, Windows Live, Hotmail / Live, Twitter, MSN / Messenger, Google and many more. Want to create an account somewhere? Check our Blacklist first to see if it’s even possible to remove your profile!

What AccountKiller specializes in is collecting direct links and deleting instructions to make account termination an easier process.Read more..

*     *     *

Bonus: additional recommended reading: Does a Blogger’s Opinion Really Matter?

Copyright 2007-2010 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved. jaanix post to jaanix.

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June 15, 2010 Posted by | computers, how to, Internet, privacy, security | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 43 Comments

How To Uninstall Live Messenger

Microsoft’s Instant Messenger (IM) program, “Messenger” is now a part of the “Live” family of downloadable programs and utilities, (see, The “Live” Line – Microsoft’s *New* Product Family) and like the others, is now called “Live Messenger”. The “Windows Live” programs you can download are: Messenger, Mail, Writer, Photo Gallery, Movie Maker, Family Safety, and Toolbar.

Some of those are keepers for sure, but renaming Messenger to “Live Messenger”, and giving it a fancier look, um, er, well, let’s just say I don’t want it on my machine. If you have it, and do not want it either, keep reading.

How To Uninstall Windows Live Messenger (or other Live program):
1) The normal way to remove (technically, “uninstall”) programs from your computer is to use the “Add/Remove Programs” tool in the Windows Control Panel (called “Programs and Features” in Vista/Win7). And this is where you go to uninstall Live Messenger too.

But Paul! I looked there already! Messenger isn’t there!“, you say? Well, yes it is, but it’s kind of hidden. So click Start > Control Panel > Programs and Features >Uninstall a program. And let the list “populate”.
The “pack” of downloadable “Live” programs – including Live Messenger – is called “Windows Live Essentials” so that’s is what you want to look for. (Click on images to see larger versions.)


2) Click on “Windows Live Essentials” to ‘select’ it, and then click the “Change/Remove” button. A new window will open.


3) Select the “Uninstall” ‘radio button’ (if it isn’t already) and click “Continue”.


4) Place a check in the checkbox for Messenger (and any others you no longer want) and click “Continue”. Follow the steps until it says “Finished”, reboot if necessary, and that’s it, you’re done. Live Messenger will be gone.

Today’s free download: For my Instant Messaging (aka “chat”) needs, I use Trillian Astra, which lets me monitor multiple ‘identities’. (Works on Macs now too.)
Connect to IM & Social Networks. Trillian lets you connect to multiple IM and social networks at the same time, managing contacts and real time status feeds efficiently.

AIM , Yahoo! , ICQ , Windows Live (MSN) , MySpaceIM , Google Talk , Jabber/XMPP , Facebook , Twitter , Skype , Bonjour.

Copyright 2007-2010 © Tech Paul. All Rights Reserved. jaanix post to jaanix.

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April 3, 2010 Posted by | advice, computers, how to, IM, Microsoft, PC, social networking, software, tech, Windows | , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments