Archive for the ‘Windows’ Category

Blackbird – Windows Privacy, Security, and Performance

Saturday, December 12th, 2020

Blackbird for Windows (7, 8, and 10)

When it comes to Windows, getting rid of telemetry, keyloggers, and other spyware Microsoft has embedded in your operating system can be rather difficult.  Fortunately, there are a few utilities that can help you take back control over your privacy and security.  One of these utilities is Blackbird, and it is now my preferred privacy and security utility for removing the Microsoft bloatware and spyware that Microsoft has embedded in their latest versions of Windows (Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows 10). 

To use Blackbird, simply download and run the latest version from their site:

https://www.getblackbird.net/

If for some reason you can't download it from their official site, you can download the latest version from this mirror.

Fix for Mapped Network Drive Issues

After running Blackbird and using it to remove Microsoft's embedded spyware, your mapped network drives to your Network Attached Storage (NAS) drives may no longer work or load properly.  To fix this, download and extract this zip file (named blackbird_fix_smb1_nas_drives.zip) into the same directory where you unzipped the blackbird.exe file.  Then, double click on the "blackbird-network-issues-fix-including-smbv1.bat" file which will run scripts to fix your Server Message Block Version 1 (SMB1) settings.  Reboot your computer after running the batch file, and your NAS drives should work again.

Destroy Windows Spying

I used to use Destroy Windows Spying, but unfortunately, it hasn't been updated in a long time and is no longer being actively developed or maintained, and as such, Blackbird is now my preferred destroy windows spying utility!

Recreating a Lost or Removed EFI Windows Boot Partition (Repair Windows Boot)

Wednesday, January 29th, 2020

Recreating a Lost or Removed EFI Windows Boot Partition

In case you remove an SSD with a Windows Boot Partition that boots an installation of Windows, you'll need to recreate the boot system to be able to successfully boot again.  To recreate the boot EFI partition on another drive or partition, perform the following:

1) Create or use an existing Windows installation disc or flash drive (you can use Rufus USB to format a flash drive with a Windows ISO)
2) Boot PC using your Windows installation media (a CD, DVD, flash drive, etc containing Windows installation files)
3) Press SHIFT + F10 on the first screen to bring up Command Prompt
4) Run the following commands and click Enter each time at Command Prompt:

diskpart
list disk
select disk N (N refers to the disk which contains the deleted the EFI System partition)
list partition
create partition efi size=200
format quick fs=fat32
list partition
list volume (find the volume letter which belongs to the installed Windows OS)
exit (exit diskpart)
bcdboot M:\windows (M refers to the volume letter of installed Windows OS)

Add any additional Windows installations by repeating the bcdboot command followed by the installation path for any other Windows installations you want added to the menu.  For example, I added my Windows 7 partition using the below command:

bcdboot P:\windows

You should now be able to boot Windows again without needing the old boot partition or drive.

Instructions were modified from this post.

Ryzen Windows 10 Random BSOD Fix – Mouse Becomes Unresponsive, System Slows to a Crawl, and Then Crashes

Tuesday, January 28th, 2020

Ryzen Windows 10 Random BSOD Fix

For the longest time, I could not figure out why I couldn't get Windows 10 to consistently install or run in a stable fashion for longer than a few minutes on my Ryzen 1700X or my Ryzen 3900X AMD CPU. 

After trying everything I could think of and pulling my hair out, I found a simple solution that appears to have worked!  Simply disable Link State Power Management in your Power Setting's active power plan.

Go to the "Control Panel" -> "Power Options" -> Click on the "Change plan settings" link for your selected power plan -> click on the "Change advanced power settings" link -> navigate to the "PCI Express" category -> find the "Link State Power Management" option -> set it to "Off" (for both on battery and plugged in).

In general, there are several reasons why a computer can suffer a catastrophic Blue Screen of Death (BSOD) issue, but in my case, it turns out I just needed to adjust some power settings to compensate for a storage controller bug found in some solid state hard drives.  Thanks Reddit users for helping me find the fix!

https://www.reddit.com/r/Amd/comments/cx3rpb/new_system_with_ryzen_and_windows_10_freezes/#t1_eykk63l

Run Everything as an Administrator in Windows 10 by Default – Same Windows 7 Behavior

Tuesday, January 28th, 2020

Run Everything as an Administrator in Windows 10 by Default – Same Windows 7 Behavior

To run everything as an administrator in Windows 10, there are several settings that must be changed.  In Windows 7, you would only have to disable UAC for the current user:

This isn't good enough in Windows 10.  You have to disable UAC for the current user AND do the following:

Run gpedit.msc to open the Local Group Policy Editor. Expand Computer Configuration, Windows Settings, Security Settings, Local Policies, and Security Options. Four settings need to be updated:

  1. Set "User Account Control: Behavior of the elevation prompt for administrators in Admin Approval Mode" to Elevate without prompting.
  2. Set "User Account Control: Detect application installations and prompt for elevation" to Disabled.
  3. Set "User Account Control: Run all administrators in Admin Approval Mode" to Disabled.
  4. Set "User Account Control: Only elevate UIAccess applications that are installed in secure locations" to Disabled.

The LGPE automatically saves all changes, so exit it and reboot.

Please read more here:

https://superuser.com/questions/1002262/run-applications-as-administrator-by-default-in-windows-10

Common Internet File System (CIFS) – Windows 10 and Windows 7 – Accessing SMB1 Using Anonymous (guest) Account

Tuesday, January 28th, 2020

Common Internet File System (CIFS) – Login Using Anonymous (Guest) Account to Network Shares & NAS Systems

Windows 7:

To map and connect to a network share that is using the SMB1 protocol in Windows, there are a few things that you need to do depending on which version of Windows you use.  In Windows 7, it should be pretty easy.  When mapping the network drive, be sure to check the "Connect using different credentials" box.  For the login, use "anonymous".  Leave the password field blank (don't provide a password).

Windows 10:

Windows 10 doesn't support the SMB1 protocol by default.  However, it can be enabled.  To enable SMB1 support, go to the Control Panel, click on "Programs and Features", and then click on the "Turn Windows features on or off" link in the left sidebar.  Under the "SMB 1.0" category, enable the "SMB 1.0/CIFS Client" by clicking the checkbox and making sure it's in a checked state.  Uncheck the "SMB 1.0/CIFS Automatic Removal" entry if it's enabled as it will cause anonymous logins to SMB1.0 shares to fail.

The next step is to configure Windows 10 to allow anonymous logins to network shares.

To enable access under the guest account from your computer, you need to use the Group Policy Editor (gpedit.msc). Go to the section: Computer Configuration -> Administrative templates -> Network -> Lanman Workstation. Find and enable the policy "Enable insecure guest logons". These policy settings determine whether the SMB client will allow the guest logon to the SMB server.

More Detailed Guide | Archived Copy

Windows 7 and 10:

If you get a message that a drive is already mapped using different credentials, simply map the connection using its IP address instead rather than its name. 

Destroy Windows 10 Spying – Fix for Skype

Friday, December 20th, 2019

Destroy Windows Spying

Destroy Windows Spying is a great little utility that stops Microsoft from collecting some telemetry without your permission on Windows 7 and Windows 10.  It is an open source project hosted on GitHub.

Download and use Destroy Windows Spying for both Windows 7 and Windows 10. 

After you run Destroy Windows Spying, Skype may not work due to an overly aggressive hosts file entry.   To fix it, remove the following entry from the C:\Windows\System32\drivers\etc\hosts file:

client-s.gateway.messenger.live.com

 

Obtaining Let’s Encrypt HTTPS SSL Certificate on Windows

Friday, May 10th, 2019

Obtaining Let's Encrypt HTTPS SSL Certificate on Windows

Install the .NET Framework version 4.7.2, and then:

Download ACME Windows Client – WACS

To obtain a certificate, run the WACS.exe with the following arguments:

wacs.exe --target manual --host {DOMAIN_NAME} --webroot {PATH_TO_DOMAIN_ROOT_LIKE_C:\zpanel\panel} --emailaddress {EMAIL_ADDR} --accepttos --validation filesystem --store pemfiles --pemfilespath C:\certs

 

Geany PHP Beautifier

Saturday, August 16th, 2014

PHP Beautifier Support for Geany

Geany is by far one of the best text editors I have come across that works on both Windows and Linux.  It is also one of the most aesthetically pleasing editors to look at right out of the box.  I do a lot of PHP scripting, and as such, it is nice to have a "beautifier" script that will automatically format my code for me so that it looks nice.  Geany can also call the php executable and check your script syntax. You can achieve both of these features by installing both PHP for Windows and the PHP Beautifier PEAR addon.   

Install PHP for Windows:

If you code your PHP scripts in Windows, you'll want to use syntax checking and the PHP_Beautifier script.  To do so, you must install the PHP5 Windows package, which includes the main PHP binaries.

To get the files, download the latest version of PHP 5.3.

Extract the contents of the archive to "C:\php5"

Go into C:\php5 and rename "php.ini-development" to "php.ini".

PHP BEAUTIFIER WILL NOT WORK ON ANY NEW VERSION OF PHP FROM 5.4.X and UP!

Install PEAR for Windows:

PHP_Beautifier relies on PEAR functionality.  To install pear, save this file using a browser and place it in the "C:\php5" directory.  

Start command prompt, change directory into "C:\php5", and run the phar script:

C:\
cd C:\php5
php go-pear.phar

Install everything and keep default options.

Install PHP_Beautifier:

Now, install PHP Beautifier by running the following commands:

pear install PHP_Beautifier

Integration in Geany:

For PHP Syntax Checking:

In Geany, click on "Edit" in the menu bar and choose "Preferences".

In the "General" and "Startup" tabs, under the "Paths" section, paste "C:\php5" (without the quotes) into the "Extra plugin path:" field.

For PHP Beautifier:

Start the Geany text editor program.  Open a PHP script file.

Select the code you want to format, right click on the selected text, and choose "Format" –> "Send Selection to" –> "Set Custom Commands".

For command, use the following:

php C:\\php5\\php_beautifier -s4 -l "ArrayNested() NewLines(before=T_COMMENT:for:switch:foreach:T_CLASS:function:T_CLOSE_TAG,after=T_ENDIF:T_CLOSE_TAG:T_OPEN_TAG:T_ENDSWITCH:T_ENDWHILE:T_ENDFOR:T_ENDFOREACH)"

For "Label", use "PHP Beautifier"

Hit OK.

Now, select the code you want to format, right click on the selected text, and choose "Format" –> "Send Selection to" –> and pick "PHP Beautifier".  The code should now be formatted using the options specified in the command line arguments above.

For more filter options and commandline parameters, please read this PHP_Beautifier document.

 

WinRar Create SFX Self Extracting Installation Wizard and Add Registry Settings

Saturday, January 19th, 2013

Creating a SFX Installation Wizard with WinRar that Can Modify Registry Settings

WinRar's "SFX options…" dialog does not contain any information or guides that help you modify registry settings after the files for your installation have been extracted.  This is a hinderance, but it is extremely possible to modify registry settings by running a batch file after the installation has been completed.  First, make sure the .bat file is included with the rest of your installation files that you selected before making the SFX archive.  In the "Advanced SFX options" window, click on the Setup tab.  Under "Run after extraction", type in just the name of the .bat file you're going to be running.

The Batch File Itself:

This template batch file checks to see if the operating system is 32-bit or 64-bit.  This is an important distincting as it will affect how you setup keys for each type of operating system.  64-bit system keys are usually placed in the Wow6432Node key, so it is important to make this distinction so that your registry settings will work properly.  This batch file called "Program Registry Adder 1.0" provides examples on how to add and modify registry keys depending on the operating system type.

Download Program Registry Adder 1.0

Adding Keys with a .bat (batch) File:

To add specific keys, you use the following parameters:

REG ADD "HKLM\SOFTWARE\My Proggy\" /f /v "InstallDir" /t REG_SZ /d "%PPROG%

The first parameter specifies which hive and key should be created.  The /f flag forces the addition.  The /v flag is the name of the key that should be created.  The /t flag specifies what type of Registry key should be created.  The example uses REG_SZ, which is just a string.  The possible types are:

Value Type (Use this in the batch File)
Binary REG_BINARY
DWORD REG_DWORD
Expandable String REG_EXPAND_SZ
Multi-String REG_MULTI_SZ
String REG_SZ
Binary REG_RESOURCE_LIST
Binary REG_RESOURCE_REQUIREMENTS_LIST
Binary REG_FULL_RESOURCE_DESCRIPTOR
None REG_NONE
Link REG_LINK
QWORD REG_QWORD

 

Check out more information here.

The /d flag contains the value of the key.

Conclusion

Using both a self extracting installation wizard and a batch file for registry key settings makes for the perfect free to use professional looking installation script. You can always run the batch file silently by removing all pause statements in the script. 

WinRar SFX Custom Start In and Target Paths on Desktop Shortcuts

Saturday, January 19th, 2013

WinRar SFX Custom Start In and Target Paths

When creating a self extracting installation wizard using WinRar, you may want to create a shortcut to your program on the user's desktop.  Typically, these parameters are specified in the "SFX options…" dialog.  In the "Advanced SFX options", click on the "Advanced" tab.  Here, you'll see a section called "Shortcuts".  If you create a shortcut using the "Add shortcut…" button, WinRAR will typically leave out an important undocumented feature.

If you create a desktop shortcut using the "Add shortcut…" button, make sure you set the "Destination folder" to just a slash "\" (no quotes) or the shortcut on the desktop will have the following properties:

Target: "D:\Install Directory\YourProgram.exe"
Start in:

Notice, there is no "Start in:" path.  To fix this, you need to add a "\" to the desktop shortcut parameters manually like so:

D, yourProgramsName.exe, \, "Shortcut Description", "Shortcut name",

Or, make sure you place a "\" (no quotes) for the "Destination folder" in the add shortcut helper.

This problem only affects desktop shortcuts and can be fixed by adding a "\" to the parameters for each desktop shortcut after the program's name.