AVG Free Antivirus is a great, free antivirus solution made by AVG Technologies. Many people use AVG, and I have come across a few clients that have accidentally upgraded their Free version to the Paid 30 day Trial version, causing headaches.
The problem occurs when updating AVG Free, and clicking ‘Next’ through a series of screens. On the “Select your product” screen, AVG have pre-selected the “Internet Security Trial/Full Protection” option, which will upgrade you to the paid trial version of AVG.
To avoid this situation, you need to select the “Anti-virus Free/Basic Protection” button, before clicking ‘Next’.
Clients regularly ask if it possible to downgrade AVG back to the Free version.
Yes, if you have accidentally upgraded your AVG Free to the AVG Paid Trial, you can downgrade AVG back to the free edition by starting to uninstall AVG. During the uninstallation process, you will be given the option to downgrade AVG back to the free version.
- Open Start – Control Panel, and then click Programs and Features.
- In the list of installed products select AVG, and then click Uninstall.
- Click the option Switch to AVG AntiVirus FREE.
An AVG installer will run, and downgrade AVG to the FREE version. Wait for the installation to finish, and then restart your computer.
Some clients recently noticed all my memory cards and USB sticks have pictures, making it much easier to identify which stick is which when trying to save a file on to one.
This can be performed using Windows autorun pictures.
To complete this, you’ll need a picture in icon (.ico) format. You can either download an icon file, from sites such as https://www.iconfinder.com or make your own icon from any picture, using an Icon Editor program such as Greenfish Icon Editor Pro.
Locate a picture of your USB stick. I try to find an exact picture of the stick, using a Google Image Search. In this case I searched for “Verbatim 32GB Store n Go USB”
View the picture, Right click on it and select ‘Save picture as’, and save it to your desktop.
To transform the picture in to an icon file, I used Greenfish Icon Editor Pro. The video below demonstrates how easily that’s done.
Save the icon file directly into the USB stick, as ICON.ICO, making sure you save the file in ‘.ico’ icon format.
Create a text file on the USB stick, called AUTORUN.INF which contains the following code:[autorun] icon=icon.ico
*Some additional notes about autorun are at the bottom of this post.
Finally, I make both the icon and autorun files read only and hidden, using Windows Explorer – selecting both files > Right click > Properties and ticking the Read Only and Hidden check boxes.
All done – Just remove and remount the USB drive to see your changes.
The following video demonstrates how it’s done.
YouTube Video URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YprCOwTUlns
Note: The same method can also be used to identify Memory Cards and Hard Drives.
Some notes about autorun:
The autorun feature has many more options, such as the label option, which names the USB stick – eg: “label=MyUSBDrive”.
Autorun is quite an old feature, first introduced with Windows 95. The option commonly abused is the “open=Setup.exe”. This has been abused to automatically run malicious software, without the user knowing.
This was patched at some point during the life of Windows, and Windows must now be configured to allow Autorun.inf to launch items.
An Autorun command reference is located at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autorun.inf
Raspberry Pi Webcam Server Project
The Raspberry Pi is a small, cheap mini-computer that runs Linux. It’s great for tinkering with, and there are many projects online to try. In this project, I have used Linux ‘motion’ software to setup the device as a Raspberry Pi Webcam Server.
The Raspberry Pi Webcam Server will need to monitor and detect movement and will initially be set to record .AVI video files to its 16GB SD Card. This folder will be open to the network for easy viewing, transferring & deleting of the recorded video files.
In a future revision, the Raspberry Pi Webcam Server will be modified to save directly to either an attached USB hard drive or another networked PC share folder.
The video footage will also be streamed live to my local network and available through the browser on any device.
To complete this project I used:
- A Raspberry Pi
- A SanDisk Ultra 16 GB Class 10 SD Card
- A Logitech C615 HD webcam
- An externally powered 4 port USB hub
- A Logitech MK320 Wireless keyboard & mouse
Booting the Raspberry Pi Webcam Server
I chose to prepare the SD card using a Windows PC. This involved downloading an SD card image from the Raspberry Pi website for free.
To place the image on to the SD card, I used Win32DiskImager for Windows.
Once completed, I inserted the SD Card into the Raspberry Pi and connected the externally-powered USB hub, Keyboard adapter and LAN cable, then I turned on the Raspberry Pi.
Setting up the Raspberry Pi Webcam Server
The standard Login and password for the system is username: pi and the password: raspberry
After logging into the Raspberry Pi, the first step was to configure the Raspberry Pi using the Raspi-Config tool. I expanded the Root FileSystem, set the correct Time Zone and Locale, Enabled SSH, and set the device to Boot to Desktop option.
Tip: The Raspberry Pi can be reconfigured by running the following command from a terminal window:
I also experimented with overclocking the Raspberry Pi and settled on the medium overclocking choice of 900MHz.
Now that the Raspberry Pi boots to the desktop, the next step was to ensure the Raspberry Pi operating system is up to date, using:
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade
I then downloaded and installed motion and ffmpeg
udo apt-get install motion ffmpeg
and installed samba
sudo apt-get install samba samba-common-bin
I created a folder on the Raspberry Pi SD Card where motion will save the .AVI videos to.
udo mkdir /home/pi/motion
sudo chmod 777 /home/pi/motion
I then edited the Samba configuration file to add the motion folder as a Network Share.
sudo nano /etc/samba/smb.conf
After entering the correct network details near the top of the Samba configuration file:
workgroup = MyNetwork
wins support = YES
I then added the following text to the bottom of the Samba configuration file.
comment=RaspberryPi Motion Share
browseable = yes
writeable = yes
guest ok = yes
A quick check from another PC on the network confirms the folder is now visible.
Configuring the Raspberry Webcam Server
Now the Raspberry Pi is ready for me to setup the Motion configuration file:
sudo nano /etc/motion/motion.conf
I set the following items
Here’s a copy of my completed motion.conf
The full list of Motion Configuration Options are listed here:
Next, I enabled the motion daemon by editing this configuration file:
sudo nano /etc/default/motion
and I changed
Now start the Motion server service:
sudo service motion start
To restart the motion software following changes:
sudo /etc/init.d/motion restart
Rather than using a WiFi adapter, I have chosen to use an existing Netcomm NP-204 Broadband Over Powerline adapter, which will provide power and LAN cable internet connection to the Raspberry Pi.
I had already set my Network Router to provide the Raspberry Pi with a static IP address of 192.168.1.20 for previous projects. The picture below shows that Address Reservation in the Router Configuration webpage.
Now any network connected device, including PCs, Tablets and Smart Phones can now browse to 192.168.1.20:8081 to view the live stream of images from the Webcam.
To remotely configure the motion server, I browse to 192.168.1.20:8081. The image below is a screenshot taken on a Samsung Galaxy running Firefox for Android.
The Raspberry Pi Webcam Server project is now complete.
In this hot weather we know to keep ourselves, our children and our pets cool, but its also a good time to check on your PC’s health – perhaps its an overheating pc
Computers will shutdown when they are too hot, in an attempt to protect themselves from excessive heat damage, but permanent damage can still occur.
How do you check the PC’s temperatures ?
The majority of PC’s show their temperatures in the BIOS screen, but this requires a reboot to access it. It’s much easier to view the PC’s temperatures by downloading and installing SpeedFan v4.49, a FREE tool available from the Tailormade IT Solutions website:
“SpeedFan is a program that monitors voltages, fan speeds and temperatures in computers with hardware monitor chips.” Source: http://www.almico.com/speedfan.php
If you do notice high temperatures, or are experiencing strange shutdowns and outages, this can result in permanent damage to your PC, and reduce its life span.
Thermal Paste being applied to a CPU
Tailormade IT Solutions recommends and provides PC maintenance services that investigate and resolve overheating PC issues, including:
Dust Removal – Dust is a great insulator, and cleaning out that build up of dust inside the PC will help it breathe better and run cooler.
Fan Checks – Ensuring your internal PC fans are not damaged, and are working correctly and effectively removing heat from the PC.
CPU Thermal Paste – The PC’s brain, or CPU, generates a lot of heat. Checking and reapplying the Thermal Paste on the CPU can assist heat removal from this important component.
Additional Cooling – Installing upgraded or additional heatsinks and fans, including water cooling for extreme desktop PCs. Laptop owners can also purchase laptop cooler pads.
Please note that the following method of cooling your PC is NOT recommended.
There are reports that a new bank account raiding Trojan, called Hesperbot, is doing the rounds. This Trojan uses an old design flaw, found in ALL versions of Microsoft Windows.
These viruses try to trick users into running a malicious Windows executable, cunningly named with a .pdf.exe file extension.
For example, a program named “MyTrojan.pdf.exe” will show as “MyTrojan.pdf” to most Windows users. With the addition of a PDF icon, users are duped into opening what they think is a PDF file.
These type of attacks can be easily vaccinated against with one simple change of settings:
Set your Windows Explorer to show the extensions for known files.
There are a number of ways to access these settings – such as using the Control Panel / Folder Options / View Tab, or from inside Windows Explorer / View / Options / View tab.
Microsoft continues to hide extensions by default. If only they set Windows to show extensions by default, this attack vector would not exist.
BitTorrent Labs has just released a new tool called BitTorrent Sync, which is used to sync files/folders from one PC directly to another. It works differently to cloud based products like Dropbox, Google Drive, and Microsoft Skydrive.
With a variety of backup options now available, its surprising that many users don’t consider backing up important data until its too late.
In this post, Tailormade IT Solutions discusses backup options and some of their pros and cons, including their ease of use, safety, security and suitability.
Tailormade IT Solutions can configure a backup routine that ensures your data is safe.
Copy Files Locally
I’ve met users who simply plug in a USB drive and copy data from their computer manually. For example, copying the My Documents folder to a USB drive, CD or DVD.
- User has to remember to backup regularly;
- backup data is held on-site and susceptible to physical loss.
Automated Backup – Locally
The next step would be an automated backup solution. Data is a lot safer if the backup routine is automated and regular. These backup routines typically work at a certain time, and copy information to a USB drive. Users should disconnect the backup drive when not in use.
- Set and forget peace of mind.
- Data held on-site.
Automated Backup/Sync over Network
If you have multiple computers, your can set one aside as a backup PC, and configure all other computers to backup at a certain time to that location. This can work locally or through the internet, using the new BitTorrent Sync tool.
- Set and forget peace of mind.
- Data held on-site.
Automated Backup/Sync to Cloud
Using cloud storage providers (such as DropBox, SkyDrive or Google Drive) to syncing folders has become very popular. These services allow you to automatically sync a folder from your computer to a internet server. With your login details, the server can be accessed from any computer in the world.
Cloud storage providers offer varying levels of service and security, but they also retain ownership of your data in the fine print, and commonly limit the sizes of files you can upload, and/or total server size.
- Data is held off site, and accessible from anywhere in the world.
- Data held by cloud providers is owned by cloud providers.
If you need an IT professional to configure a backup routine for you, contact Tailormade IT Solutions
On 8th February 2013, a new documentary was released directed by Simon Klose. The documentary “TPB AFK – The Pirate Bay Away From Keyboard” is based on the lives of the three founders of The Pirate Bay – Peter Sunde, Fredrik Neij and Gottfrid Svartholm.
Of course, The Pirate Bay is one of the best known file-sharing brands and the site has a well-earned place in Internet history. Swedish filmmaker Simon Klose has documented part of their struggle as they are targeted by several court cases over the years.
What not many people know is that the three founders of The Pirate Bay often pretended to get along in public, but had some big fallouts in private. This becomes quite apparent in the documentary.
TPB-AFK is the first film to premiere both online and at a major film festival, and can be downloaded and shared for free. The full film is released under a Creative Commons license onto The Pirate Bay and other BitTorrent sites. 3 versions of this documentary are legally available for download from the Pirate Bay website.
The film runs for 122 mins.
YouTube Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eTOKXCEwo_8
Torrent Link: https://oldpiratebay.org/torrent/6243351/TPB-AFK-2013-720p-h264-SimonKlose
Here is the trailer for the documentary, called TPB AFK.
A client recently had some difficulty setting up their email. They were used to using Microsoft Outlook, but are now using the Windows 8 Mail App, built in to Windows 8.
This post will demonstrate how to setup an email account on Windows 8 Mail App.
While you can use the Windows Charms Menu to access the Mail App settings, it is easier using this method:
- Open the Windows 8 Mail App.
- Press Windows Key + I.
- Select “Accounts”.
- Select “Add an Account”.
- Select “Other Account”.
- Select “IMAP” and click Connect.
- Click “Show More Details”.
You can’t use the Windows 8 Mail app without first signing in to a Microsoft account. After adding a Microsoft account, the Settings charm will have an Accounts option, which you use to add other accounts.
You will now see the relevant boxes where your incoming and outgoing server details can be entered. These details are provider specific, and are available from your email provider.
For example, GMail users would enter the following details:
Email Address: your full Gmail address (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Username: your full Gmail address (email@example.com).
Password: your Gmail password
Incoming Mail (IMAP) Server: imap.gmail.com
Incoming Mail (IMAP) Server Port: 993
Incoming Server Requires SSL: Yes
Outgoing Mail (IMAP) Server: smtp.gmail.com
Outgoing Mail (IMAP) Server Port: 465
Incoming Server Requires SSL: Yes
Requires authentication: Yes
Use same settings as incoming mail server: Yes
Your email account is now set up, and after clicking Connect your emails will arrive.
POP: POP (Post office protocol) is a one-way download of your messages that allows you to access your mail with a mail program like Outlook Express or Apple Mail. POP only offers one-way communication, which means that actions you take in the mail program (like marking a message as read) won’t be synced to Gmail.
IMAP: IMAP (Internet message access protocol) lets you download messages from Gmail so you can access your mail with a program like Outlook Express or Apple Mail. IMAP syncs the actions you take in Outlook Express or Apple Mail with Gmail so if you read a message in your mail client, it’ll be marked as read in Gmail.
Why pay for a separate Mobile Internet connection for your laptop, when your phone already includes a Data Allowance ? A few people answer: Because I don’t know how to setup an Android WiFi Hotspot.
This is a short guide on how to setup a Portable Wi-Fi Hotspot on your Android phone, and connect a Windows laptop to it.
You can then cancel your laptops Mobile Internet connection and save a few dollars.
Step 1: Configure Wi-Fi hotspot on Android phone
In the Android phone settings you will need to find the “Tethering and portable hotspots” menu. In this example (using a Samsung Galaxy S2 running Android 4.0.3) it is found by tapping the Android Settings button from the main screen, then tapping “Settings”, then “More” and “Tethering and portable hotspots”.
Initially you will need to configure your Wi-Fi Hotspot by selecting the “Configure Wi-Fi Hotspot” option.
In the following screen (shown right) you will need to enter a Network Name (SSID) and select what Security you want to use, then enter a Password (if applicable).
Remember these details: Later you will locate this network name (SSID) using your laptop and enter the password.
Tap “Save” to return to the “Tethering and portable hotspots” menu.
Step 2: Activate your Wi-Fi Hotspot when required
It is good practice to only activate your Wi-Fi hotspot when you need it.
Using your Android phone, navigate to the “Tethering and Portable Hotspot” menu, then tick the box next to “Portable Wi-Fi Hotspot”.
This will activate your hotspot using the settings you just configured.
The Wi-Fi Hotspot icon will appear in the status bar of your Android phone, as shown below.
If this step seems a little cumbersome to use frequently, there is also a free Android App available, called Portable Wi-Fi Hotspot, that will turn your Wi-Fi Hotspot on/off using a desktop icon, without you having to navigate to the “Tethering and Portable Hotspot” menu.
Google Play Store link:
Step 3: Connect the Windows Laptop
Using your Windows laptop, click the Wireless networks icon in the system tray (next to the clock) and you will see your Android Wi-Fi Hotspot in the list of available networks.
Select the Wi-Fi Hotspot network name and connect to it, using the network password (if applicable). If you select the “Connect Automatically” checkbox, Windows will remember these details and connect automatically whenever the Android Wi-Fi Hotspot is active.
Multiple computers can be connected to the Wi-Fi Hotspot, and can use large amounts of data, quickly. Make sure you keep an eye on your phones monthly data allowance using your ISPs free App (if available).
Android phones come with a built-in file explorer, called “My Files”, but this app can only browse the phones memory card.
To improve your Android Windows Networking and copy files easily across the network, download and install a free app such as ES File Explorer, available from the Google Play Store.
First, lets setup a Network Share folder in Windows, which will be visible on the network, and to the phone. Once set, Windows will remember this share setting.
On your PC, using Windows Explorer, browse to the folder you want to share. In the example picture shown below, I am using the ‘New Folder’ on the desktop. (Click on the image below to zoom in)
Windows 8 Network Share Folder
To setup a folder as a Networked Shared Folder in Windows:
- Right-click on the folder you want to share.
- Choose ‘Properties’, and then the ‘Sharing’ Tab.
- Click on the “Advanced Sharing’ button.
- Select the “Share this folder” checkbox, and enter a name.
- Click the ‘Permissions’ button.
- Select ‘Full Control’.
- Click ‘Ok’, ‘Ok’ and ‘Close’.
This folder is now visible on the network and you can access (read and write) this folder from other network devices. You can repeat this process for multiple folders on multiple devices.
Now to the Android phone: To transfer files wirelessly using ES File Explorer on the Android phone, you will need to be connected to your network Wi-Fi, and download and install ES File Explorer from the Google Play Store.
Left: Android Phone, Middle: Network Devices, Right: Share Folders
When starting ES File Explorer, the ‘Local’ phone memory card is displayed, and you can swipe to the right to see the devices on your network.
Alternatively you can tap on the ‘Local’ button to bring up this menu (right), where you would select ‘LAN’.
Initially you will need to add your PC. To do this tap the Android Settings button, then tap “New” and “Server”. Enter the IP Address of your PC and a friendly name in the “Display As” box. Depending on your networking you may need to enter Login and Password details for that PC too.
Tapping on the PC (Eg: WIN8-AMD) displays a list of the shared folders within it, and tapping on those shared folders will navigate you to the shared files.
ES File Explorer also uses a handy toolbar featuring buttons for common tasks such as selecting, cutting, copying, pasting, and deleting files.
ES File Explorer can also connect to nearby devices via Bluetooth, and Web / FTP Servers on the internet. Here’s a short YouTube video demonstrating these and some additional features:
ES File Explorer lets you copy files to/from your Android phone and your PC.
Google Play Store link: