Sunday, January 22, 2017

Windows 8.1, is it even relevant?

Back on May of 2013, I suggest one should hold off for the fixes to be applied to windows 8.  We have Windows 8.1 available, and a few years under our belts.  Microsoft decided to fix 8 with the latest Windows 10.  Funny, I hate Windows 10 more than Windows 8.  And yes, I don't car much for Windows 8 either.

As a Windows System Administrator, I am sometimes asked to repair laptops for friends and co-workers.  Even today, I am stunned at how many times an OS has been hacked, exploited, damaged, or just plain runs like molasses in the winter time.  You might think that over the 15 years, of various Operating systems, and the collection of great minds working on great strides towards better code, that these issues would be nonexistent.  At least they would be less than they are today.

No such luck.  The latest problem I encountered is a root kit, embedded inside Windows 10.  How does this happen?  Well pops up ask or warn you, or for that matter they can say, "hey, do you like Chocolate?"  You hit Yes, and the thing installs.  Amazing at the ingenuity of the hackers and crackers today.  If they spent just half of their resolve, they would be making great sums of money.

What is a root kit? Google says it best...
  1. "a set of software tools that enable an unauthorized user to gain control of a computer system without being detected."

Some root kits are good, many are bad.  If you are not aware of it, it is probably bad.

Anyway, as with many of us, the original discs were missing or lost.  New systems today don't even have original discs.  Companies insist that you create your own set of backup discs or USB backup utilities.  I URGE YOU, right now to go create them.. even before finishing this read.  Seems the HP laptop came with Windows 8.1, and on the site have only Windows 8.1 compatible drivers available for some of the hardware components.  So Windows 8.1 it was.  At least HP offered the re-install "discs" on a USB drive for $50.  A bit steep, but in the long run worth it.

Why?  See the OS that comes from the vendors now have the activation codes set to be automatic.  No longer does one have to type in the long series of codes from a sticker plastered on the bottom of the laptop or PC.  Matter of fact, there are no stickers anymore for many modern PCs and laptops.

I re-installed the OS, after I saved the users data to a CD.  The tool clears the drive, wipes it clean, and installs the pristine OS windows 8.1.  Awesome.  Now, copy the users data to the laptop, and finished?  Well, not quite, his apps can not be re-installed, since there are no discs.  Many are a few years old, and not available.  One in particular will need to be re-purchased.  Users doesn't mind, but it is a hassle.  This way he will have the latest an greatest software, updated, and will have backup media, if ordered.

After it was loaded, files copied, time to do updates.  But no luck.  Updates would not work.  The windows 8.1 interface, in all it mono chromatic blocky self, didn't provide any errors, codes or problems pop ups.  It just keep looking, and looking, and looking for updates.  Many hours went by, several days n a row, and even one full weekend for around 12 hours.  So I am no Einstein, but I think it has a problem.  A bit of searching the net provides some ideas from various people.  One such solution, I believe based on experience, is probably the right one.  The Update engine needs to be updated to the latest version, so it talks the proper language back to the mother ship.  I turn off the auto update, something I can not do in 10, to ensure update problems don't cancel each other rout.  I apply Windows8.1-KB3138615-x64.msu, and restart.  I run Windows Update manually, check for updates, and let it run for about 15 minutes.  It finally comes back with a magic screen saying, updates need to be applied.  Woo Hoo!  I check out the list, and it is some 2 GIG of updates.  Thanks goodness for cable internet speeds.

In my next post I plan to let you know how all went to conclusion, and will provide you some tips on how to guard against root kits, viruses, trojans, and hackers.  I also plan to give you some opinions on Windows 8.1 against Windows 7, and Windows 10.

Happy Downloading...

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Pelican212 Played VERY WELL at Presidential Inauguration

Pelican 212 was fantastic Jan 20th at the Donald Trump Presidential Innauguration.  What a great job!  They played some older type music with a modern flare.  Very talented young musicians!