• Celebrating Spring

    We’re between rain events here in California and the bulbs are in full bloom and in some cases getting ready to end their display for the year. I’m taking a slight break from tech tonight to share spring with you.

    One of my favorite Daffodil varieties called “jetfire”.

    But taking photos always reminds me how much the technology of taking pictures has changed. We used to have dedicated cameras and only took photos with film that had to be developed. Taking and developing pictures was expensive so you’d reserve taking a photo until you had just the right shot. Along the way we moved to faster photo processing, even to the point that we could get our photos developed in an hour (or less). Along the way we had poloroids where you’d take a photo and then shake it to help it develop. (Ah the kids have no idea what fun we had) Then came the big change in photography. The PHONE. When a camera was inserted into a phone to where you had a high quality photo taking device that not only was with you at all times but was in your pocket – and had Internet access – taking photographs changed drastically.  No longer did we even care if we got the PERFECT photo, we could screw up a bunch and not care. We can even edit the photos and make them better.

    I’m still struggling finding a nice, easy photo editing software program.  Geeks swear by irfanview but that’s a bit too geeky for my Sister who loves to edit photos. Do you have a favorite editing program?  Share in the comments!

  • Making Windows 11 on Arm less obnoxious

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    ISSUE 20.12 • 2023-03-20

    WINDOWS 11

    Mary Branscombe

    By Mary Branscombe

    If you’re running Windows on Arm, you really want to be running Windows 11 rather than Windows 10.

    Not only is it the only way to get Windows 11–specific features such as running Android apps or tabs in Notepad, but — crucially for Arm devices — it’s the only way to get 64-bit emulation or the native ARM64 .NET Framework. 64-bit emulation was previewed in an Insider build of Win10, but it shipped only in Win11.

    If you want to run apps such as the most recent version of Photoshop or Signal on your Arm PC, you need Windows 11 to do it. That’s annoying if you find the new Windows 11 user interface as frustrating as I do.

    Read the full story in our Plus Newsletter (20.12.0, 2023-03-20).
    This story also appears in our public Newsletter.

  • The forums, and networking


    Talk Bubbles

    Last week, Will wrote a “From the forums” note titled How to participate in the forums. The response to that note was greater than expected, as you can see if you visit its associated forum topic.

    Your reaction in the forums has already spurred us to make a change.

    Will’s article about his encounter with Verizon also resulted in heavy forum activity. The comments were interesting and instructive.

    Read the full story in our Plus Newsletter (20.12.0, 2023-03-20).
    This story also appears in our public Newsletter.

  • TPM 2.0, required by Windows 11, is hackable. Upgrade now?


    Brian Livingston

    By Brian Livingston

    Researchers have discovered flaws in TPM 2.0, a security microcontroller that Microsoft requires on a device (with exceptions) before Windows 11 will install. If your computer is affected, a hacker could bypass TPM’s security to read some of your data or overwrite cryptographic keys that the microcontroller is expected to contain safely.

    The news isn’t all bad. There are many ways you and your devices may be immune.

    Read the full story in our Plus Newsletter (20.12.0, 2023-03-20).

  • How to take advantage of the Photos app in Windows


    Lance Whitney

    By Lance Whitney

    The Photos app in Windows 10 and 11 will help you view and organize all the photos and videos scattered across your PC and other devices.

    After years of shooting photos and videos, you may have thousands of them stored on your phone and your computer. And now you want to be able to access them all, preferably in one single spot.

    Designed for Windows 10 and 11, the built-in Photos app is a free and convenient way to manage and view all your photos and videos, no matter where they’re located.

    Read the full story in our Plus Newsletter (20.12.0, 2023-03-20).

  • The sky is not falling


    Susan Bradley

    By Susan Bradley

    You may have seen the headlines: Outlook is getting a patch for a zero-day attack that can’t be fixed just by turning off the preview pane.

    Don’t panic. The risk is greatest if you are connecting Outlook to an on-premises Exchange server.

    Importantly, the attacks have been seen only in targeted firms. The risk is higher for government agencies. Microsoft has even provided a script to determine whether you are at risk.

    Read the full story in our Plus Newsletter (20.12.0, 2023-03-20).

  • Don’t want search?

    Now I will be the first to admit that I search.  I search on Google.  I search even on Bing. But when I search – I WANT TO SEARCH. So I’ve never quite understood why Microsoft has this thing about having the Operating system search from the taskbar.  I open a browser.

    Now I do use the search box to quickly jump to a setting. If you hop back and forth between Windows 10 and 11 sometimes the brain goes… where did they move that again?

    So now we have Bing being added to search in the March updates.. but not just ANY search … it’s the chatgpt search.

    Now I’m not adverse to change but really…. do we really need all of this ChatGPT stuff given that it feels very much to me that it’s a bit too new, too much the shiny thing and hasn’t been tested for security issues, side effects and what not?

    Joe here posts about the registry key to disable or hide the search bar. You can find this by opening up the registry and

    find: Computer\HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Search

    Look for SearchboxTaskbarMode and right-click on it and select Modify.  Change it to 0

    I’d argue that you want it t0 search your computer, but not the web. For this you’ll add a new registry key for DisableSearchBoxSuggestions


    And let’s not forget about chatgpt coming to Microsoft 365 Copilot. Stay tuned, we’ll have lots more guidance and advice on how to navigate all of these vendors “rush to the AI” trend. And how to turn some of these settings off….

  • Special note for Samsung users (or Pixel users too!)

    If you have any of the following read on….

    Mobile devices from Samsung, including those in the S22, M33, M13, M12, A71, A53, A33, A21, A13, A12 and A04 series;
    Mobile devices from Vivo, including those in the S16, S15, S6, X70, X60 and X30 series;
    The Pixel 6 and Pixel 7 series of devices from Google;
    any wearables that use the Exynos W920 chipset; and
    any vehicles that use the Exynos Auto T5123 chipset.

    What is this about?  Google project zero have released a blog post about a security vulnerability that impacts these devices.

    What does this mean? Tests conducted by Project Zero confirm that those four vulnerabilities allow an attacker to remotely compromise a phone at the baseband level with no user interaction, and require only that the attacker know the victim’s phone number. With limited additional research and development, we believe that skilled attackers would be able to quickly create an operational exploit to compromise affected devices silently and remotely.  So if the attacker CALLS you, they could compromise your phone.

    Note: Until security updates are available, users who wish to protect themselves from the baseband remote code execution vulnerabilities in Samsung’s Exynos chipsets can turn off Wi-Fi calling and Voice-over-LTE (VoLTE) in their device settings. Turning off these settings will remove the exploitation risk of these vulnerabilities.

    What should I do? 

    How to turn off WiFi calling on a Samsung phone

    1. Open the phone on your Samsung phone
    2. Tap the three-dot menu in the top-right corner
    3. Select Settings
    4. Find the WiFi Calling option about halfway down and toggle it off

    How to Disable VoLTE on any Samsung Galaxy Phone

    1. Head over to the Settings page on your galaxy device.
    2. Then go to the Connections section.
    3. Scroll to the Mobile network section.
    4. Within that, you should see the VoLTE Calls option. Just disable the toggle and that’s it. (note I think this should be default disabled and is probably not enabled by default)

    No patch is available at this time.  As soon as I hear word of one, I’ll add it to the master patch listing.

    Please note – each vendor of the phones can customize the deployment and thus you may not see these options in your phone.

  • Master Patch list as of March 15, 2023

    I’ve updated the Master Patch list for the March releases.

    Remember to always review the known issues we are tracking on the Master Patch List. I will keep the latest info there.  Right now the big trending issue is the issue where Windows 10 22H2 doesn’t seemingly reboot if you manually check for updates. If you use Start11, StartAllBack, and ExplorerPatcher  make sure you update to the latest on Windows 11.

    I am recommending at this time that you install Apple updates, I’m not recommending Windows updates at this time. I’ll have more details in the newsletter on Monday.

    • Windows 11 22H2: Not recommended
    • Windows 11 21H2: If you have a Windows 11 PC, recommended
    • Windows 10 22H2: Recommended
    • Windows 10 21H2: Recommended (if a vendor won’t support 22H2)
    • Apple Ventura – Recommended for newer hardware – as always check with the applications you rely on if they recommend this release.

    As always, thank you all for supporting the cause! Remember a donation will give you access and if you donate $50 or more you’ll get a special code to enable text messages sent to your phone each time the Master Patch List gets updated and when I change the MS-DEFCON level.

  • March madness here we come

    Ready or not – here comes the March updates. Remember by this time you need to have a backup and defer updates (unless you are one of the souls who like to be the beta testers for the rest of us.

    Interesting items of note:  Outlook vulnerability used in TARGETED only attacks and impacting NTLM (translation – businesses with Exchange servers not consumers/home users. If you have click to run Office this will be auto updated.

    There is also a ‘smartscreen’ vulnerability where Edge can be tricked into thinking something isn’t from the web and not scan it. This will be auto updated when Edge updates.  When we finally update Windows the smartscreen as a whole will be updated. But again, we don’t blindly download things do we?

    Both are more business only – not consumer/home targeted so I’m not changing my “hold off and wait to patch” stance in any way.

    Remember Windows 11 22H2 gets “moments” releases – I’ll be reporting if my registry key works on Windows 11 Home computers.

    More links as they come live…..

    Also business impact:

    This update implements phase three of Distributed Component Object Model (DCOM) hardening. See KB5004442. After you install this update, you cannot turn off the changes using the registry key.

    This update addresses an issue that affects a computer account and Active Directory. When you reuse an existing computer account to join an Active Directory domain, joining fails. This occurs on devices that have installed Windows updates dated October 11, 2022 or later. The error message is, “Error 0xaac (2732): NERR_AccountReuseBlockedByPolicy: ‘An account with the same name exists in Active Directory. Re-using the account was blocked by security policy.’” For more information, see KB5020276.

    Dustin Childs’ zero day blog

  • Tooling around with laptops and other useful gear

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    ISSUE 20.11 • 2023-03-13


    Ben Myers

    By Ben Myers

    Portable computers have evolved from the Compaq luggable suitcase to laptops now weighing three pounds or even less, needing special handling and tiny tools.

    Today’s notebook, subnotebook, and tablet computers demand an array of small tools, sometimes unique to a brand and model. My small kit for the road can handle the screws found outside and inside many laptops, but I needed more and better help.

    Read the full story in our Plus Newsletter (20.11.0, 2023-03-13).
    This story also appears in our public Newsletter.

  • How to participate in the forums


    Talk Bubbles

    By Will Fastie

    Plus member Chuck wrote to say he wasn’t sure how to make a post in our forums.

    The comment proved a bit alarming. We have links all over the place to get to the forums. We even have a huge area in the right sidebar of the site, devoted to the forums. This includes simple and advanced search features as well as other helpful sections.

    Read the full story in our Plus Newsletter (20.11.0, 2023-03-13).
    This story also appears in our public Newsletter.