Tuesday, November 17, 2020

A Simple FREE security tip for Windows 10

I want to share a simple setup change to make your Windows 10 computer more secure.

Windows 10 is very secure with built-in firewall and anti-virus protection, but a potential danger is that the default setup means the user has administrator privileges. The danger here is that software can be loaded without the user giving permission. For example the user gets an email with an attachment which they think is a document, but it turns out to be a program like ransomware which is going to encrypt all their files and start deleting them until they pay a ransom. They double click on the 'document' expecting it to open when instead the ransomware software is installed on the computer.

To make sure this can't happen the simple solution is to have 2 accounts on your computer: An admin account and a standard user account which you use everyday. The only time you need to use the admin account or type in the admin password is when you are installing software, an upgrade or making a major change to your computer. You will know you are doing this, so expect to have to use the admin password. At any other time you have the added security of having to input the admin password and you can ask yourself why (or an IT support person like myself!).

So I am going to show you how to setup an admin account on your Windows 10 computer.

First click on the Windows start icon on the bottom left of your screen and select Settings

Select Settings

Then when in settings select Accounts.


Now select 
Family & other users.


Then select Add someone else to this PC.


The click on I don't have this person's sign-in information


Then click on Add a user without a Microsoft account


Now you can create the user Admin. You can give it the same password you use for your own account or a different one. As I said the reason for the second account is to warn you something is being installed or changed on your computer.


Once you have created your Admin account you need to give it Administrator privileges and make your own account a standard account. To do this you need to go back into Accounts and Family & Other users. Then select the Change account type beside Admin and you will get a drop down menu. Change the account from Standard User to Administrator by using the select arrow.







Now you will need to change the account type for the account you will use normally on the computer. To do this click on the search box beside the windows icon on your computer and type in Control Panel.


Press enter then click on Change Account Type under User Accounts.


Then select the user you use on the computer normally, not the Admin one you just created.


Click Change your account type.


Make sure Standard is selected then click Change Account Type.



You now have that extra level of protection. If you have any problems or questions feel free to get in touch with me!

Monday, January 4, 2016

Using IKEA Sliding doors

After using IKEA sliding doors for two different jobs recently, I thought I would write a blog describing how to use the sliding doors on something other than an IKEA wardrobe!

So IKEA sliding doors come in 2 height sizes, 201cm and 236cm and 150cm and 200cm widths. My concern when fitting was the height the fittings need to go to for my own design. I went for the 201cm high doors because of the restrictions in the high of the rooms I was fitting them in.

So the important measure I needed was 1925mm from the top of the bottom rail to the top of the top rail. See picture below.


Note: if I were using the 236cm doors then the size would be 35mm more ie 1960mm.

The top rail is usually attached to the wardrobe using plastic clamps and clips through the top of the wardrobe. Since the rail is aluminium I just drilled extra holes and screwed the rail to the pine I was using. This is fine for the weight of doors I was using as they have oak veneer panels which don't weigh to much. If I was going to use mirrors then you would need to beef up the fixings!

I hope this has helped. At the very least it keeps a personal record of the measurement I may need in the future if I do this again!

Here is a picture of the other job I did using these doors.



Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Netgear Router Firmware Upgrade

Did you know your Netgear router might have security issues?

This blog post has been prompted by the news that some Netgear routers have security issues and therefore the company are releasing an upgrade to the firmware in order to fix the problem.

Models affected are JNR1010v2, JNR3000, JWNR2000v5, JWNR2010v5, N300, R3250, WNR2020, WNR614, WNR618. To check your router model look on the router base or once you login into the router the model number will be stated on the admin screen.

Even if your model is not affected, doing an upgrade to the firmware is a good idea as it often fixes problems or security issues.

For those of you not sure what a router is it is the device that you use to connect you to the internet. Netgear is a brand and will look something like this image below and will usually say Netgear on it.




Initially you need to log in to your router. To do this open a web browser (like Chrome, Firefox or Internet Explorer) and in the address bar at the top type 192.168.1.1 (this is the usual 'IP address') and press return. Another window will appear where you need to enter the User name and Password. The default user name is admin and the password is password.


You should now be in the routers admin area and newer models will have a screen similar to the image below. If the router needs an upgrade there will be a message across the top saying "A new firmware upgrade is available. Click here to get it". Click on the message and it will take you to the upgrade area where you can select upgrade.


For older models your login screen may look something like this. Click on 'Router Upgrade' to go to the screen to check for upgrading the firmware.


Then select 'Check' on the next screen.



Install any upgrades needed. The upgrade will take a few minutes depending on your broadband speed.

If this blog has you scratching your head or if you have any problems completing the upgrade then please do get in touch!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

AVG Anti-Virus Update

I highly recommend AVG Anti-Virus software, however you have to be careful when it updates. This happens a few times a year and when it does the following pop-up will appear.


After you click Update now another screen will appear. This screen will have pre-selected 'Ultimate protection' (as shown below). You may not want this as is it costs you, so you have to decide whether you really want to pay. AVG give you a free 30 day trial of this if you want to try it and it is not too difficult to down grade to the Basic version at a later stage. Personally I have found the Basic version adequate for my needs.


So if you want to stay with the Basic version, select Basic protection (as shown below) and continue installing the update.


I hope you have found this helpful and feel free to check out my other posts or get in touch with me if you have any questions.




Sunday, August 10, 2014

Slow Computer/Low memory

I often get people contacting me saying their Windows computer is running slow and/or is saying it is low on memory. There are a few things you can do to check what the problem is and if it can be fixed. The first thing to do is right click on the bottom bar on the screen and select Task Manager. A window will appear showing what the computer is doing. Select the Performance tab to show how much memory is being used.

In this example you can see under Physical Memory it says 4085 which means the computer has 4GB and above that in the graphic display of memory you can see it is using 2.90 GB. If this graph shows it is using near the maximum or at maximum then the computer will run slow.

You can close programs down to see if it makes a difference. Start by looking at the Applications tab and close any programs that you are not using.

We now need to look at programs that are running in the 'background' which are initiated on startup. To do this you will need to download and install a program called CCleaner from http://www.piriform.com/ccleaner/download. Just download the free version and install!

After installing it will give you the option of running the program. When you run the program you can select Tools and Startup to show you what programs are running when the computer first starts. You can look through this list and see if there is any you don't think you need. If in doubt, Google the program to check it is needed. If you find one you are sure is not needed you can delete it by highlighting it and clicking Delete on the right. If you are not sure you can click Disable and if you find you did need it you can Enable it again.

CCleaner can also be used to 'clean' your computer. What this does it is removes files that are no longer needed, for example temporary files which programs create in use or files created as you browse the internet. Click on Cleaner at the top and click Run Cleaner to remove files no longer needed.

CCleaner can also check the computer 'Registry' for an issues. As you use your computer, adding and deleting programs etc this cause 'issues' that can be cleaned up and makes the computer run smoother. Click on Registry and select Scan for Issues. Once it has completed, click Fix selected issues and another window will popup asking 'Do you want to backup changes to the registry?', click No, then click Fix All Selected Issues in the next popup window. Once completed click Close.

If you are still having problems with your speed or the computer saying it is low on memory you can look at upgrading the memory. This will depend on what computer you have, if it can take more memory and if there is spare capacity. To check what you have in your computer you can download a few programs called CPU-Z from http://www.cpuid.com/softwares/cpu-z.html and install on your computer.

Once you have installed the program, double click on the icon on the desktop to run the program. Once the program is running select the tab SPD to see what memory slots are used and what is in each slot.

You may find you have a spare slot and can easily add more memory. Or you may find all your slots are used but you could replace them with larger memory sticks. You can see that the program gives you lots of details of the memory stick allowing you to look for something similar.

I hope this has helped and please feel free to get in touch with any questions and if you need a hand upgrading your memory... I'm your man!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Free Software for creating & editing images

I often create business cards or leaflets for people and business. Today it is so easy to have your own business card and many companies like Vista Print offer their own design solutions for you. However, if you really want to make it unique you can create your own with some amazing software that is free!

The first program I am going to share with you is Inkscape which is available for all operating systems (Windows, Mac OS and Linux). This is a vector graphics design software, and as they say on their website, it is similar to Adobe Illustrator. You can import images, re-size them, add text on top, put images side by side and lots more.

Another benefit I've found from Inkscape is that it can open pdf files to edit them. You can only use the file in a limited way but an advantage is you can extract images from the pdf file.

Once you've designed something in Inkscape you can export it as an image to then use elsewhere. The export is only in png (portable network graphics) format but that can easily be changed to another format. For example I use Gimp, another editing software, which can change the image from png to jpg (a common form of image compression) which is more widely used.

Gimp is an image manipulation program which can be used for photo retouching, as well as many other uses. It is similar to Adobe Photoshop and can do most things that Photoshop can do.

It is great for re-sizing an image, cutting part of an image out (you can even edit people out and put them on a different background) and many more uses. You can also export the image into another format and/or export it to a lower resolution, for example to use on a website. There are loads of tutorials online for how to use different aspects of Gimp, just google what you want to do and you often find someone has documented the steps you need.

There are many tutorials online for how to use these excellent tools and I hope you have found this useful.

Here are some examples of images I have created using these programs.

Two images blended with Gimp

Business card created using Inkscape

Background changed and round corners added to a photo using Gimp
 

Monday, March 17, 2014

Windows XP ending - what to do?

This is a must read for all Windows XP users!

On April 8th 2014 Microsoft will stop supporting Windows XP. This means there will no longer be updates, especially security updates which stop people 'hacking' your system. So,what should you do?



You can continue using Windows XP and although you will initially have no issues, eventually you will. Other software that you use may stop working properly or you may have problems accessing websites and other online services. The biggest problem you might have is security, as hackers will be targeting this version.

My advice, if you can upgrade to Windows 7 or 8, if your computer can run it. You can check the minimum requirement at this link for 7 and this link for 8. If your computer can not run Windows 7 or 8 there are some great deals on new computers (get in touch if you need some advice).

But if you are not able to do that or just want to keep the old computer there is another operating system that you could use, called Linux. Linux is free and many of the versions you can get are very easy to install. You can try them before you install, using what is called a LiveDVD or LiveCD. This allows you to run the operating system from the disk without installing it on the computer. You can then see if you like it and check that it will work with your computer.


One version of linux which can look similar to Windows XP in setup is Zorin. The minimum requirements to run this are:

            1 GHz processor
            512MB Ram
            5GB Hard Drive



When you try the the LiveDVD version, it will run slower than when it is installed on the computer (as it is running from the DVD) but it will give you an idea how well it will work.


Yet another version of Linux which is very similar to the layout of Windows XP is LXLE. This is based on the Ubuntu linux operating system. It uses less processing power and the minimum requirements to run this are:

          Pentium 3 or newer
          512MB Ram


Again you can try running the operating system from the disk before installing it.

Before you install the operating system you will need to copy all your files to somewhere that you can access after installing it. One option is using Google Drive which was detailed in my previous blog Moving to the 'Cloud' or Dropbox or an external drive to back up your files. This will depend on how many files you have. Remember to copy files that might not be obvious, like bookmarks.html (I've made the mistake of not doing that and lost all my bookmarks!).

There are many other versions of linux you can use, so have a good look and see what there is. Ubuntu, which I mentioned earlier, is another great product but looks a lot different from Windows, so may put people off. Another version I can recommend is Linux Mint and you can look at many more at Distowatch.

If all this seem too much for you, I am available so feel free to get in touch!