• Ewaste or usable?

    I have two old laptops that over the next few weekends I’m going to attempt to see what options I have to make them usable.

    Laptop number 1 was built for Vista and is now running Windows 7 (barely). Laptop number 2 was sold as a Chromebook but the version is now out of date and it’s unsupported. It’s no longer usable for it’s most recent use – that of tele-medicine for someone who used it recently. She’s since bought a new chromebook that is supported.

    But before I add these two laptops to the ewaste heap – I’m going to see what I can do to make them USABLE and SUPPORTED.  Meaning that it’s a functional machine and doesn’t mandate that I take a coffee break for 20 minutes as it boots up and it has to still get patches.

    What’s my goal? Well first they are no longer usable as Windows devices. These days you need 16 gigs (at least) and a SSD drive to be usable for Windows 10.  Clearly they cannot support Windows 11 as they have no TPM chip.  I don’t expect these two devices to be beefy workstations, rather merely web browsing and email only.

    I was going to try to initially move these to a supported Chrome OS like Cloud Ready but recently they got bought out by Google.  Along the way I’ll discuss the issues I hit.

    So my first bit of a roadblock is the fact that Cloud Ready has gone more “corporate” and now has certified models that they recommend.  I purchased the Acer C710-2834 from Amazon back in 2013 .  It has a 16 gig hard drive, Intel Celeron Processor 1007U 1.5GHz (2MB L3 Cache)  2 GB DDR3 RAM

    In poking around the web site, it’s definitely not supported, and was not considered a good candidate three years ago.  But I’m going to press on and just see if this is doable.  First I’ll follow these instructions to make a bootable flash drive, I’ll report next weekend on my progress!

  • Today is “What drives me insane about passwords” day

    May 5th was World password day. A day that Microsoft wanted us to ditch our passwords completely and move to authentication apps, fido keys and other tools to move us away from passwords.

    But I’d argue that all of these solutions haven’t addressed that there are times I need to have access to someone else’s account for purposes of administration, management, use case that is not being addressed well at all.

    My girlfriend and I recently discussed this issue. She is currently doing what she calls “case management” for a relative. Where she must manage the doctor’s appointments, assist with the bank accounts, help out with log ins for another person, someone who is remote to her and not local. Often she doesn’t want to have rights to the actual account or the bank account, but merely view rights.  She wants to be able to manage – but not BE the person when it comes to log ins. And often she finds this so frustrating that businesses from banks to medical offices can’t handle this secondary log in possibility.

    Then there is the issue of multi-user two factor. I’ve seen this often with Managed service providers and even in my industry. Often there is an invite sent to a specific person. But that person may not be doing the actual work of the project. So you end up sharing out the credentials which totally loses accountability.  These vendors need to not charge per user, but understand that sometimes in firms we assign someone else to do the actual work.

    Or let’s take the case I often see in small businesses – two people work in the business, the access is tied to the one person’s phone – but another person in the office is actually working on it. So you have to get the code that was sent to the other person’s phone in order to get into the thing.

    Now let’s take the hassle of migration and backing up two factor applications. Case in point: Microsoft authenticator application.

    “Before you can back up your credentials, you must have:

    A bit of a pain in the rear.

    Google authenticator appears to me to be easier – you can actually go into the app and export out the app. So you can place it on a backup device such as an Android tablet or iPad.

    But all of these claims about how passwordless is going to make things easier, no it’s going to make things different is all. Mind you, making sure your password is long, strong and written down either in a password application or literally WRITE THEM DOWN on a piece of paper that you then keep safe.

    But bottom line, on this day AFTER password day. I do want you to do better on passwords, too often we use really lousy ones. But I also want our vendors to realize that THEY need to do better as well.

  • MS-DEFCON 2: 2004 is out of support

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    ISSUE 19.18.1 • 2022-05-05
    MS-DEFCON 2

    By Susan Bradley

    Check your Windows version, then update accordingly.

    I regularly come across PCs that are running old, out-of-support versions of Windows because they aren’t on the Web long enough to be “serviced” by Windows Update. For example, there are two Surface laptops in my office that are used by people on cellular connections. As a result of sporadic use, they never get a feature update.

    Just the other day, I realized they were running Windows 10 2004 and thus no longer were getting security updates, a serious matter.

    Anyone can read the full MS-DEFCON Alert (19.18.1, 2022-05-05).

  • May 2022 Office non-Security updates are now available

    The May 2022 Office non-Security updates have been released Tuesday, May 3, 2022. They are not included in the DEFCON-4 approval for the April 2022 patches. Unless you have a specific need to install them, you should wait until Susan Bradley (Patch Lady) approves them and any problems have been reported.

    Remember, Susan’s patching sequence and recommendations are based on a business environment that has IT support and may have time constraints on the updating process. Consumer patching should be more cautious due to limited technical and mechanical resources. The latter is the reason for the AskWoody DEFCON system.

    Office 2016
    Update for Microsoft Access 2016 (KB5002048)

    There were no non-security listings for Office 2013.
    On April 10, 2018, Office 2013 reached End of Mainstream Support. Extended Support will end for Office 2013 on April 11, 2023.
    Office 2016 also reached  End of Mainstream Support on October 13, 2020. EOS for Office 2016 is October 14, 2025.

    Updates are for the .msi version (perpetual). Office 365 and C2R are not included.

    Security updates for all supported versions of Microsoft Office are released on the second Tuesday of the month (Patch Tuesday).

  • A lifetime of achievement

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    ISSUE 19.18 • 2022-05-02

    EDITORIAL

    Will Fastie

    By Will Fastie

    We are pleased — and excited — to announce the creation of the TameYourTech Crystal award.

    We are even more pleased to present the inaugural award to Fred Langa for his lifetime of achievement in the field of personal computing journalism.

    As a further celebration of Fred’s career, we are happy to bring all our newsletter readers four of Fred’s LangaList columns, previously available only to Plus members.

    Read the full story in our Plus Newsletter (19.18.0, 2022-05-02).
    This story also appears in our public Newsletter.

  • Things that annoy me – Windows 11 edition

    You can tell that Microsoft is starting to react to some of the feedback on Windows 11, well at least their Enterprise customers.  In the Insider release comes new group policies:

    What’s new in Build 22610
    Additional new MDM and group policies for IT administrators
    We are introducing new policies so that IT administrators can simplify their Windows 11 experience across Start, taskbar, and the system tray. The following policies are available today:

    Disable Quick Settings flyout
    Disable Notification Center and calendar flyouts
    Disable all taskbar settings
    Disable search (across Start & taskbar)
    Hide Task View from taskbar
    Block customization of ‘Pinned’ in Start
    Hide ‘Recommended’ in Start
    Disable Start context menus
    Hide ‘All apps’ in Start
    To configure these new group policies locally, open the group policy editor and navigate to User Configuration > Administrative Templates > Start Menu and Taskbar. You can also deploy these policies via Microsoft Endpoint Manager as well.

    Let me know if you want any of these options in registry keys?  As typically if you can do it via group policy, you can also do it via a registry key in Home versions.

    You know what slows me down in Windows 11 the most?  The Cut and paste function in the File explorer.  It’s now hidden in the “show more options” section of the right mouse click

    Once you click on “show more options” then you see copy and paste.  Now yes, I can do control C and Control V, but that typically means I have to move my fingers off my mouse and over to the keyboard.

  • Today’s edition of things that annoy me

    Today’s edition of things that annoy me in Microsoftland:

    1. Whom did you get your feedback from?

    Peter Deegan writes on Microsoft’s latest huh move. In a recent post to their alerts, they indicate that they are going to move people from the semi-annual enterprise channel to the monthly channel because people in the monthly channel “Customers on a monthly feature update cadence, such as those on Monthly Enterprise Channel, have reported higher satisfaction than those receiving semi-annual feature updates.”  I don’t know about you but I hardly ever click on Office smiley face feedback so exactly whom did you speak to?  Note this does not impact consumer 365 subscribers, just business subscribers.

    2. The dribble changes

    Microsoft announces changes in their platform but then doesn’t push things out right away. So weeks go by and suddenly things change for some – but not all – of your computers and you have to figure out what change occurred. If you suddenly see your search results change, remember I wrote about this a bit back.

    Right-click the Windows taskbar, select Search from the popup menu, and then click Show search highlights.

    I prefer the second option, setting a Registry key because options set like this in the Registry tend to stick — further updates to this “feature” should not turn them back on. To block the external content, add the key Windows Search, add another dword key called EnableDynamicContentInWSB, and set it to 0. This is represented by the following:

    • HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\Windows Search\EnableDynamicContentInWSB=0

    To make it easier for you, I’ve coded up an easily installable registry key to place the block in your system. To install the block, merely click here and then click on Open file in your browser’s download dialog. Click to run the program, and then click yes to install the registry key.

    Bottom line, every day there’s something new to be aware of.  We try to keep you informed!

  • MS-DEFCON 4: Protect yourself with patches

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    ISSUE 19.17.1 • 2022-04-26

    MS-DEFCON 4

    By Susan Bradley

    I’ve been holding my breath.

    For the past few weeks, I’ve been watching for attacks that researchers indicated would be coming due to a vulnerability in all versions of Windows. All I’m seeing so far are theoretical attacks, not actual attacks.

    CVE-2022-26809, the headline vulnerability of the April updates that impacts Windows 7 through Windows 10 — as well as Windows Server versions — sounded like it had the potential of being a worm inside a network. Microsoft complicated the matter when it first indicated that this vulnerability was triggered by SMB file sharing. Then it clarified that the original researcher had provided a proof of concept that used SMB file sharing, but that additional methodologies could be used in attacks.

    Anyone can read the full MS-DEFCON Alert (19.17.1, 2022-04-26).

  • Removing MFA

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    ISSUE 19.17 • 2022-04-25
    Look for our special issue on Monday, May 2!

    MICROSOFT 365

    Will Fastie

    By Will Fastie

    How many times have articles in this newsletter told you that multifactor authentication (MFA) was a good idea and suggested that you turn it on?

    A lot. It’s good advice.

    Just the other day, I turned on Microsoft 365 MFA for one of my clients. It’s too embarrassing for me to describe the mistake I made. Suffice it to say that it was an accident, because I didn’t intend to turn it on.

    Read the full story in our Plus Newsletter (19.17.0, 2022-04-25).
    This story also appears in our public Newsletter.

  • Apple’s M1 processors are shaking up how you compute

    SILICON

    Brian Livingston

    By Brian Livingston

    After defining the smartphone market with its iPhone for years, Apple Inc. has shaken up the tech territory by designing its own M1 silicon to revive the Mac product line.

    With the original M1 appearing in MacBook Air shipments as of November 2020, the latest shipment in March 2022 of the so-called M1 Ultra — with performance rivaling that of some longtime powerhouse leaders — has created an entirely new class of personal computers.

    Read the full story in our Plus Newsletter (19.17.0, 2022-04-25).

  • Get more OneDrive with these tips

    MICROSOFT 365

    Peter Deegan

    By Peter Deegan

    There are a few tricky ways to beat the 365 plan quota, to get more than one terabyte of OneDrive space for nothing and save local disk space by pushing files to OneDrive.

    Most Microsoft 365 plans, including Family, Personal, and most Business plans, include one terabyte of OneDrive storage. That’s 1,000 GB, more than enough for most people. But if you need more, there are cheaper – or even free – options available that are legitimate, inside the bounds of Microsoft’s rules.

    Read the full story in our Plus Newsletter (19.17.0, 2022-04-25).

  • Gearing up for cyberwar

    ON SECURITY

    Susan Bradley

    By Susan Bradley

    Once upon a time, I used to publish maps showing the location of each water pump in the city where I live.

    Fresno residents rely on the underground water supply and pump much of the drinking water from various wells throughout the city. And then Fresno — like every other city — realized that publishing information about critically important infrastructure items, such as drinking water, probably wasn’t wise. That was especially driven home after 9/11; governments realized that they were handing over helpful data to those who might use it to attack us.

    Read the full story in our Plus Newsletter (19.17.0, 2022-04-25).