Tech – for Everyone

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

Possible help for ransomware

Folks, this article discusses ransomware, and provides links to a ‘toolkit’ that may help you if you have been hit with an infection, and your files are now ‘locked’ by encryption. I have not tried any of this myself, and cannot comment one way or the other, except to say my advice is to seek professional help; but if you want to try D-I-Y decryption, well, then, here you go. Use at your own risk.

Article: Ransomware: To pay or not to pay

There is no need to tell victims of digital extortion how successful it is. What is needed is a way to help victims respond to the ransom demands.Read more..

And here is the toolkit’s Information page. It is vital that you thoroughly read it before using the toolkit. Ransomware Response Kit Overview.
Once you’ve read and understood the page, click the “Downloads” in the navigation pane. Be sure to read the “Readme” file before trying any tool.

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Today’s quote:You cannot have a positive life and a negative mind.” ~ Joyce Meyer

Copyright 2007-2015 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.


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

September 30, 2015 Posted by | advice, computers, how to, ransomware, security, tech | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

5 tips for keeping your kids safe online

A reading reco for you today.

* Keep your children safe online

No parent wants their child to fall prey to the dangers online, but it’s hard to know exactly how to protect young ones today. From malware to video game addiction, it can seem like the Internet is a vast sea of dangers.

We’ve mapped out the most important online threats for kids today, as well as laid out our top five tips on how to help your little one safely navigate the web. Address the issue of online safety now and help your child develop the digital smarts they need to stay out of harm’s way.” Read more..

* * *

Today’s quote:Did I offer peace today? Did I bring a smile to someone’s face? Did I say words of healing? Did I let go of my anger and resentment? Did I forgive? Did I love? These are the real questions. I must trust that the little bit of love that I sow now will bear many fruits, here in this world and the life to come.” ~ Henri Nouwen

Copyright 2007-2015 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.


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

September 28, 2015 Posted by | advice, how to, Internet, kids and the Internet, security, tech | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Troubleshooting Steam

When something goes wrong, and you have trouble getting your Steam games to launch, and play properly, there are many potential causes. Sometimes these “causes” can be “cured” by simply “rebooting” (turn off, then on again (aka “restart”)) your computer.

Other times it will take a bit more effort and research.

And, sometimes, it may take a total re-Install of the Steam Client.. (and, I’ve heard, sometimes that just makes things worse.) Or it might take something in between.

As a good ‘first step’ in resolving your issue you can (should) look in the Steam FAQ’s for Troubleshoot and How-To’s for previously posted answers for your particular trouble (you should be seeing an error message..)

Next, rest assured you are not the first person to have your problem, so use the ‘search feature’ in the Steam User forums. Try to use your error message as your “search term”. You should find others who have experienced your glitch, and others will have posted ‘fixes’ and steps for how they solved the trouble. If you should be unable to find your particular error (highly unlikely) you can post your question (seeking help) there. Other users will/may reply with a cure.
(Here is a good example of a helpful ‘thread’ for “cannot connect” errors: http://forums.steampowered.com/forums/showthread.php?t=976072.)

Of course, you can “google it”, and get results such as: on Ask.com, someone answered: “To fix steam, you need to restart it every now and then or delete its configurations. This includes the favorite servers and games that you have downloaded in the past.” Which may (or may not) help you cure your glitch.

In those ‘worse case’ situations, you can contact Steam directly for tech support, (here: Steam Support) but be aware you will be waiting for their email reply (of dubious helpfulness..)

Further, you may need to disable, or remove, some “incompatible” programs (or settings in certain programs) which may be causing ‘conflicts’ with the Steam Client software. An alert reader sent me a copy of a list that Steam Support sent them. I am pasting it here.

Important:

The list below does not address every firewall application that could cause an issue, nor does it address viruses/spyware. Please see the Using a Firewall with Steam article and the Spyware, Adware, and Viruses Interfering with Steam article for further instructions if the issue persists after checking for the programs listed below.

Any applications running in the background may negatively affect your games or Steam itself. Certain applications can lead to more serious issues such as limited connectivity and game crashes. It is highly recommended that you close all background applications before launching Steam to ensure the best performance and stability. After you are done playing, feel free to re-enable these applications.

The applications listed below have been known to interfere with Steam and Steam games:

Hidden Processes

Certain applications may load when Windows starts and are not obviously indicated. For example, they may not appear in the Windows task bar but they may be among some of your active processes, using your system’s resources. These programs may cause crashes and other difficulties using Steam and playing games.

Please see the How to Disable Background Applications  article to see instructions for disabling non-essential background programs and preventing background applications from silently loading when Windows starts.

 Software to Look For

The following applications have been known to cause issues with Steam and playing games:

Anti-Virus Applications – Any Anti-Virus program could potentially block Steam and Steam game access, especially when not properly configured for use with Steam. Please make sure that Steam and all Steam games are listed as exceptions in these programs. If the issue persists, please try disabling or temporarily uninstalling the program to test the issue.

  • Avast!
  • AVG Anti-virus *
  • BitDefender
  • F-Secure
  • Iobit Advanced System Care *
  • Kaspersky Anti-virus
  • McAfee Anti-virus
  • Nod32 Anti-virus *
  • Norton/Symantec Anti-virus
  • Panda Anti-virus
  • Threatfire
  • Trend Micro
  • VIGuard Anti-virus

Anti-Spyware Applications

  • Ad Aware
  • CA Pest Patrol
  • PC Tools Spyware Doctor with AntiVirus (may need to disable Full-Screen detection in the Advanced settings)
  • Spybot Search & Destroy
  • Spycatcher Express
  • Spyware Doctor
  • Spyware Terminator
  • Webroot Spy Sweeper *

Firewall/Security Applications

  • CA Internet Security Suite
  • Comodo (With Portal 2 running the firewall in Defense+ in training mode allows the game to run)
  • CYBERsitter
  • ESET Smart Security
  • Netlimiter
  • McAfee Personal Firewall
  • Nvidia Network Access Manager/Firewall *
  • Nvidia ForceWare Intelligent Application Manager
  • Outpost Firewall (Disabling System Guard under Proactive Protection allows Portal 2 to run)
  • Panda Internet Security
  • Peer Guardian
  • PeerBlock
  • Tiny Personal Firewall
  • Verizon Internet Security Suite
  • Zone Alarm
  • Constant Guard by Comcast
  • Online Armor

Other Applications

  • IOBit Advance System Care
  • Airfoil
  • Alcohol 120%
  • AMD External Event Utility
  • AOLacsd.exe (AOL connection driver)
  • ATI Hotkey Poller
  • ATI Tray Tools
  • BitTorrent/uTorrent (all clients)
  • Creative Software (Alchemy, MediaSource 5 on Asus G60VX models specifcally)
  • Catalyst AI
  • Daemon Tools
  • Download Accelerators (all clients)
  • EVGA Precision
  • Garfield Daily Desktop Comic
  • GhostSurf 2007
  • Google Toolbar, Google Updater
  • GSC
  • Hamachi
  • HotSpot Shield
  • HydraVision
  • iZ3D DirectX injection
  • K-Lite Codec Pack
  • LimeWire, BearShare or other Peer 2 Peer applications
  • LogMeIn
  • Microsoft Screen Magnifier in Windows 7 (magnify.exe – may cause in-game cursor issues)
  • MSI Afterburner
  • nProtect GameGuard *
  • PC Time Limit
  • Skype
  • Slysoft AnyDVD
  • StarDock KeepSafe
  • SteamWatch
  • iolo System Mechanic
  • TeamSpeak (can lead to mic issues)
  • Total Recorder
  • Tuneup WinStyler Theme Service
  • UPEK Protector Suite
  • Ventrilo (can lead to mic issues)
  • VirtuaGirl 2
  • Western Digital Backup Anywhere
  • Whitesmoke Translator (may cause the Source engine to crash)
  • WindowBlinds
  • Xfire

* We recommend that applications listed in bold with a ( * ) symbol are fully uninstalled from your system if disabling them does not resolve the issue

 Details

Issues related to any of the programs listed below may be resolved by exiting and/or disabling the program and then exiting and restarting Steam. For certain applications, a system reboot may be required after you have shut down or disabled them.

  • Antivirus Software

    Incorrectly configured antivirus software may prevent proper operation of Steam and Steam games.

    • VIGuard anti-virus software has been found to conflict with Steam games – an error message stating “Failed to duplicate pipe handle” will be generated when attempting to load the game. Add the contents of your Steam installation folder to VIGuard’s authorized folder exceptions list to correct this issue. 
    • AVG 7.5, Norton/Symantec and Nod 32 software has been known to cause game crashes. AVG 7.5 must be fully removed from your system in order to prevent these crashes.
    • F-Secure’s “DeepGuard” feature is known to cause Error Code 51 when launching Steam games.
  • Anti-Spyware Software

    Aggressive spyware detection software may block the normal operation of Steam. We have received reports that Spycatcher Express, Webroot Spy Sweeper and CA Pest Patrol (bundled with AOL’s Security Center) may prevent Steam client application updates and connecting to game servers.

    PC Tools ThreatFire software (which is also contained in PC Tools Spyware Doctor) can prevent the normal operation of loading of Steam games, including common errors such as Unable to load filesystem_steam.dll and Engine Error: Could not load library client. If you are encountering Steam errors and have ThreatFire or Spyware Doctor installed, please do the following:

    • Disable Behavior Guard via PC Tools My Account service. Disabling the service through Intelli-Guard will not resolve the issue.
    • If this fails to resolve the issue, fully disabling or uninstalling ThreatFire or Spyware Doctor may be necessary.
  • Peer-to-Peer (P2P) Clients

    P2P programs such as Kazaa, LimeWire, BitTorrent, E-mule, and Exeem can consume a large portion of your bandwidth, which may prevent Steam from connecting. Do not run file sharing applications while you are using Steam.

  • Firewalls

    Newer versions of COMODO Internet Security includes a sandbox feature that may disable services that Steam needs to run on. Make sure important services are not being run in the sandbox mode.

  • FTP and Web Server Applications

    As with P2P programs, these programs are generally very bandwidth-intensive and may generate errors in Steam. Examples include IIS services for Windows, Apache web server and MySQL servers.

  • IP Filtering Programs

    Peer Guardian, CYBERsitter, and Netlimiter have been found to cause Steam connection issues. These programs are not compatible with Steam and must be disabled or permanently removed from the computer in order to avoid conflicts.

  • IP Masking Programs

    Programs designed to mask your IP (GhostSurf 2007, Anonymizer, etc) will impact Steam’s ability to send and receive data.

  • Download “Accelerator” and Download Manager Programs

    These programs may interfere with installing and/or downloading updates through Steam. Download accelerator programs should be disabled while using Steam.

    Additionally, Internet Download Manager has been found to cause crashes when the Steam Storefront is loaded.

  • Windows Theme Editors

    Tuneup WinStyler Theme Service has been found to cause a crash with the Steam client application and WindowBlinds may cause crashes with Source games.

  • Virtual Private Network (VPN) Software

    VPN software will prevent the Steam client application from accessing the Steam network.

  • Other Applications
    • Look’n’Stop has been reported to cause issues with Steam when its “Unknown UDP Packet” filter is enabled.
    • PowerStrip custom display modes software may cause issues with load time and crashing in games – it is recommended that you select the “Restore to default” setting in PowerStrip before playing (you may resume using PowerStrip normally once you are done).
    • The nVidia Network Access Manager has been found to cause problems as described in the Nothing appears on the Storefront screen in Steam topic.
    • Airfoil will cause the error “Game name failed to start (error code 51).” if “Instant Hijack” is enabled. You will either need to disable “Instant Hijack” (you do not need to restart your computer when prompted) or add Steam and all Steam games to the excluded programs.

In-Game Overlay Application Incompatibility List

  • X-Fire

    The in-game overlay may not function if X-Fire is running and also trying to draw its in-game chat interface on the game you have launched.

    Workaround:

    Close X-Fire, or set it to not attempt to run its in-game portion on games not launched via X-Fire.

  • Windows Blinds

    Reported as possibly preventing the in-game overlay from functioning in some games.

    Workaround:

    We are currently investigating a solution to this issue. In the mean time, please do not use Window Blinds with Steam.

  • Ventrilo

    Reported that the in-game hot-key bindings for Ventrilo may stop working with the overlay.

    Workaround: This has been reported to be a Vista issue and making the involved apps Run as Administrator solved the problem.

I do hope you get your issue resolved without having too much gnashing of teeth, hair-pulling, etc., as gaming is vital. But please note: I am not a Steam tech support guy, and if you write in with questions seeking help, I will simply refer you to the links and advice in this article. (I have stopped using Steam altogether.)

And thank you, Dear Reader, for sending me that list.

If you made it down this far, here’s a reward: a reading reco: Save our Internet before we go off the digital cliff

The Internet is a public good — indeed, a public necessity — that is being abused by profiteers. Through their greed, they’re driving us off the Internet cliff.Read more..

Today’s quote:I told my psychiatrist that everyone hates me. He said I was being ridiculous – everyone hasn’t met me yet.” ~ Rodney Dangerfield

Copyright 2007-2013 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.


>> Folks, don’t miss an article! To get Tech – for Everyone articles delivered to your e-mail Inbox, click here, or to subscribe in your RSS reader, click here. <<


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

January 22, 2013 Posted by | advice, computers, how to, Internet, performance, software, tech, troubleshooting | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Completely Off-topic #2

A Few Words For Those Of You Who Have Cares, Worries, and Concerns (Or Know Someone Who Does)

Some of you are facing some real challenges on this road we call Life. There is no doubt, we are in “hard economic times” and for many of us the future looks uncertain. Scary. Even bleak.

If this does not describe you – rejoice! For you have (for now) escaped a cruel pain!

If it does.. I am not sure what to say to you. I think my words will seem weak.. and meaningless. But I also feel compelled to say them anyway. Please don’t give up.

I hope you will not think I am being unsympathetic, but I ask you to look at your situation as a challenge, and I ask you to think about – how have you solved other challenges in your life? (You must have solved many – or you wouldn’t still be here.) And I remind you that sometimes to get those challenges resolved, we need to call in some help to get the job done. There’s no shame in that. You can (and should) ask for help if you think you might benefit from it.

For those interested, WebMD has practical tips and advice for coping with “stress” at their (appropriately named) Stress Management Health Center. Reading this advice will not – I don’t think – get you a new job/cure your illness/put money in the bank/perform miracles, all by itself, right away, by magic, but perhaps you can find some “self-help”, and good, useful information there. And help is good.

No matter the depth and strength of your ‘challenge(s)’ on this road we call Life, please do not sit down and stop walking it. OK? I ain’t going to tell you the Land Of True Happiness, Milk, And Honey is “just around the next bend”. How would I know if it’s there? You might have to go ’round six or seven bends.
Or ten. Or two.

But keep walking. Who knows who you will meet, or what you will find, or where it will take you?

.. sorry for the non-techy topic. I’ll get back to gizmos and gadgets tomorrow. Thanks for listening. (And no, this wasn’t spawned by anything I am going through personally. Not today, anyway. No need to write in.)

*     *     *

Today’s quote: The best way to cheer yourself up is to try to cheer somebody else up.”  ~ Mark Twain

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


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April 2, 2012 Posted by | advice | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A New Widget

If It’s Thursday, There Must Be A New Widget

Click me

Spammers. Identity thieves. Spyware. Viruses. Online bullies; stalkers; pedophiles; and con artists of all stripes and flavors. Just to name a few… and the numbers are shocking.

Since I first started my public postings, I have been dedicated to helping people be more informed about the risks, and providing answers and How To’s for protecting yourself (and your computer) (because no one is going to do it for you). In fact, my very first article was The first Tech Paul Post: secure your web connection.

Today I would like to draw your attention to my much-ignored Bonus Section here on Tech – for Everyone, the two columns of additional resources on the right-hand side. You know, those links and buttons webmasters call “widgets”?
Please look to the right side of your screen.
(See the “Keep this website ad free” button? I think it’s invisible…)

I have added a “widget” today. A button/link to an online resource for those who either would like to learn more about cybercrime (and how to avoid being a victim), or have been a victim of cyber crime – McAfee’s Cybersafety Resource Portal. I hope you will “check it out” (as the kids say).

Today’s quote:Before we work on artificial intelligence why don’t we do something about natural stupidity?” ~ Steve Polyak

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


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September 29, 2011 Posted by | advice, computers, cyber crime, how to, Internet, security | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

How To Restore The Menu Bar In Vista And Windows 7

In older versions of Windows, the menu bar was always visible in Explorer. In Vista and Windows 7 the menu bar is now hidden by default, and you must press the ALT key to see it. These simple steps will cause it to always be visible.
(The “menu bar” gives you the familiar File | Edit | View |Tools | Help ‘drop down’ menus)

1) Launch Explorer by opening Computer (or Documents, or Pictures..), then press ALT to access the menu bar.

2) Click on Tools and then on Folder options.

3) In the Folder Options window, click on the View tab, and click to place a check in Always show menus.

menus

4) Click on Apply and then OK.

That’s it. You’re done. (Should you decide you prefer the “more screen real estate” no menu bar look, simply repeat the steps and un-check the box.)

Today’s quotable quote:Action without study is fatal. Study without action is futile.” ~ Mary Beard

Today’s free download: (an “oldie but a goodie”) It has been a while since I have mentioned one of my fave little computer protection apps – WinPatrol.

Clean up your Taskbar, ActiveX, Brower and Startup programs. WinPatrol monitors and exposes adware, keyloggers, spyware, worms, cookies, and other malicious software. This program puts you back in control of your computer with no need for constant updates.
Download WinPatrol 20.5.2011 (Window XP, Vista, Windows 7 including x64 support)

Have a great weekend everybody!

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


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June 18, 2011 Posted by | advice, computers, how to, Microsoft, PC, tech, tweaks, Vista, Windows 7 | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment