technology

And Another Thing..

Next week I will be doing some (hopefully) intense training. Nothing physical mind you, I gave that up when I retired from the Army, all those years ago.(*) This is looking to be a 40 hour week staring at several computer screens, along with a tablet and phone, taking a Certified Ethical Hacker class. And before you ask, yes, this is a real certification course.

I have been watching some older versions of this training for almost 2 weeks, so I *think* I have a grasp of the basic context. I’m lucky that my employer allows me to sit at home and take the training remotely. It would be next to impossible to sit at my desk and concentrate on this stuff. The phone rings constantly, and no matter any signs you put up that say “In Training! Do Not Disturb” and such are ignored.

So, I’ll sit here in my PJs and particpate in the training. Since I won’t have much time for anything other than the class, I thought I’d just get the few little things running through my brain(**) out and turn them into electrons for your enjoyment.

  • Seems no matter which direction I’m driving, on-coming traffic always has priority. Very seldom do I get the “lead green”.
  • I’m not very familiar with Scotland’s football teams (those would be soccer teams here in the US), so I am unsure as to which team to throw my vastly overrated loyalty to. Please leave a comment with any suggestions. And be prepared to backup your choices!
  • Need recommendations for a PodCast manager/player for Windows and Android (and not iTunes). Thinking of giving Miro another look. I used it many years ago on a Linux box.
  • I am looking forward to finishing this class and doing a little more genealogy for a few weeks before starting the certification process. That may prove to be my undoing. I have avoided certification for years as I usually say that certifications aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on. But this one sounds interesting.

Who knows, maybe this time next week I’ll be hacking into your email! Nah… ain’t no fun in that.

Peace,
B

(*) George Harrison’s All Those Years Ago
(**) Jackson Browne’s Cocaine

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The Joys Of Internet Browsing

Over the last few days, I have been noticing an increase in posts on social media complaining about how this or that website isn’t working like it’s supposed to. If you’ve spent more than ten minutes on the web this is something we’ve all experienced (you do realize that the “www” part of a website address stands for World Wide Wait, right?).

First, let’s get some terms explained so everyone will understand.

  • URL – Uniform Resource Locator. This is what you see in the address bar of your browser. Such as “https://facebook.com”.
  • Internet Browser – There are many to choose from. Most Micro$oft Windows PCs will have Internet Explorer (also called IE), or the new (and terrible) Edge. Apple (MAC) machines come with Safari. Others include Firefox and Google’s Chrome. There are other browsers as well, that those are the bigger players.
  • Internet Cache – Also called Browsing History. When you visit a website, small portions of the site are kept on your local computer. This helps speed up subsequent visits to that website. For example, if you visit a certain website on a regular basis, let’s say Google, a copy of the Google logo may be stored on your PC so you don’t have to download it every time you visit. This was very helpful back in days of dial-up internet connections.
  • Cookies – Small pieces of information stored locally to help (but not always) with various aspects of web browsing. An example would be settings for the way you prefer to see news items. Some websites allow you to customize what you see when you get to their page. Amazon does this. Even though I do not have my password saved on my PC for Amazon, when I open the site it still has my name and preferences stored. But to purchase anything, I have to enter my password. So cookies can be good. But just like real cookies can hurt you (see expanding waistline in the dictionary), not all cookies are helpful. Some track your browsing history, allowing for targeted ads to appear on other websites.  Ever search for a product then see ads for that product (or competitors similar item) on another site? That’s tracking cookies at work.

In my 20+ years of IT experience, I have found that 75% or so of all “the webpage won’t load” or “why can’t I see this part of the webpage” problems are not the fault of the website itself, your internet provider, or the fact the Mercury is in retrograde. It’s almost always something corrupt in your cache.

So what to do?  Well, if you’re using a Windows PC the very first thing you should whenever there is something wonky (very technical term) happens, is reboot the PC. In reality, Windows PCs should be rebooted about once a week. Rebooting a Windows PC fixes a great many problems. And they really should be wiped cleaned and reinstalled yearly. But that’s another post. Mac and Linux users usually don’t have that problem.

If the problem is internet related, then you should clear your cache, or browsing history. I won’t go into details on how to do that. There are way too many variables for me to cover, and I can’t be responsible if you make a mistake and instead launch nuclear missiles. Hey, stranger things have happened.

Follow this link to Lifewire for some basic instructions. They have better lawyers, you know, just in case those missiles start flying.

If that doesn’t seem to help try this. A wonderful site Down For Everyone Or Just Me? has a great tool to see if an internet site is truly down. Just enter the website (i.e. google.com) and hit the big blue “or just me?” and it’ll tell you if the site is hosed.  Quick question; you do know that words that are (usually) blue and underlined are clickable? And they’ll take you to another webpage? Right? Just making sure…

All these tips will work no matter what kind of PC you’re using.  Folks on mobile devices (phones or tablets) may have different steps to take.  Google whatever Operating System your mobile device is running (only two big choices here – IOS for iPhones and such, or Android for damn near everything else) and your browser. It would be something like “clear cache IOS # Safari” or “clear cache Android # Chrome”. The “#”‘s stand for the version of your Operating System. If you’re not sure which version you’re running, you’ll have to Google that too.  We’d be here until the stars burn out going over all the different versions.

I hope this helps you in some small way. But I’m sure, like all tech notes, it’ll just leave you with more questions.  So feel free to ask questions in the comments below. It does require you to enter your email address, but I don’t keep track of any of that. It will write a cookie (remember those?) to your device so that it will remember you if and when you come back. You will come back, right? Please?  Of course, you can leave comments and questions on my social media, but I prefer you ask or comment here.  Links are below.

Peace,
B

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P.S. The jury is still out on whether or not Mercury being in retrograde effects internet traffic.

Tech Time

For those that have a Windows 10 PC, this is for you. If you’re using a MAC, or better yet a Linux box, I suggest you go listen to some tunes. (I recommend SiriusXM, but pick any streaming service), and if you’re still on Windows 7 uh… (Windows 8/8.1 users are in their own hell, we’ll leave them be).

Well never mind.  I was prepared to go on and on about not installing the latest (but not greatest) Windows 10 update. This would be the October update, otherwise known as build 1809 or Redstone 5. As a tech person, I installed it since I need to know exactly what happens.

I didn’t have the worst of the problems that I’ve ready about. I didn’t lose any files, although my Google Backup and Sync couldn’t find my “Downloads” folder to sync. The folder was still right there where it was supposed to be, but the update had changed the value that the OS (Windows 10 in this case) uses to identify the folder.

The only other problem I had been that all streaming audio quit working. I tried SiriusXM, Spotify, Pandora, and YouTube, with Chrome, Firefox, and Internet Explorer 11. I could see the sound levels in the mixer, but no sound could be heard. I did find some updated drivers that fixed the issue temporarily, but on a reboot, the sound was gone again. Needless to say, I rolled back to build 1803.

Now this morning while I sit at my keyboard putting electrons to virtual paper, one of my go-to sources for all things tech, Ask Woody, posts that Micro$oft has pulled the 1809 update!  This is unprecedented. To quote the article (here’s the link to the original post);

We have paused the rollout of the Windows 10 October 2018 Update (version 1809) for all users as we investigate isolated reports of users missing some files after updating.

If you have checked for updates and believe you have an issue, please contact us directly at +1-800-MICROSOFT or find a local number in your area https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/4051701/global-customer-service-phone-numbers.

If you have access to a different PC, please contact us at https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/contactus/(link will vary according to country of origin).

If you have manually downloaded the Windows 10 October 2018 Update installation media, please don’t install it and wait until new media is available.

We will provide an update when we resume rolling out the Windows 10 October 2018 Update to customers.

As I have said for a very long time, Micro$oft considers all of us as unpaid beta testers, and Windows is the most prevalent computer virus ever!

Here’s a fitting video for the 1809 update.

Peace,
B

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