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:

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 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!

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. 

Network Manager Applet NOT Showing in MATE Desktop Taskbar Ubuntu

Saturday, February 13th, 2016

Network Manager Applet NOT Showing in MATE Desktop

If you install the MATE desktop environment on Ubuntu, your Network Manager icon may not show up in the taskbar as shown below:

Without the Network Manager icon showing, you will have a hard time managing and connecting to WIFI networks.  To get it to show up, you will need to edit the following file using nano:

sudo nano /etc/xdg/autostart/nm-applet.desktop

Look for the below line:

AutostartCondition=GNOME3 unless-session gnome

And comment it out like so:

#AutostartCondition=GNOME3 unless-session gnome

Save the file using "Ctrl + O", and then exit nano using "Ctrl + X".  Restart your computer.  The network icon will show up again as shown below:

Note, the actual icon will vary based on the selected MATE desktop theme.  The screenshots above show the icon used in the LUNA theme.

Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7 x86 and x64 .NET 4.0 Post Installation Slow Startup Network LAN Devices Fix

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

Windows XP, Vista, and Windows 7 .NET 4.0 Post Slow Startup Fix

I've been running my main machines on Windows XP x64 for several years, and I am a .NET developer.  There came a day when I needed .NET 4.0 for my development projects.  After installing .NET 4.0 in Windows XP x64 SP2, I noticed a slow bootup despite the fact that I have a solid state drive.  Windows would always boot up and freeze for about a minute before the network LAN and Wireless LAN computer icons appeared in the system tray.  At first, I never realized the problem was caused directly from the install of .NET 4.0.  For over a year I tried troubleshooting the problem.  I noticed that I had this problem on all of my XP machines after installing .NET 4.0.  I suspected video drivers, LAN drivers, wireless LAN drivers, and even my BIOS.  Nothing fixed this issue.  After further searching, I finally found a thread describing the same issues I was having.  Save yourself the read, and just run this batch file I wrote after installing .NET 4.0 on ANY Windows XP x64 or x86 machine:

set I=%windir%\
cd %windir%\Microsoft.NET\Framework\v1.1.4322
ngen update
cd \
cd %windir%\Microsoft.NET\Framework\v2.0.50727
ngen update
cd \
cd %windir%\Microsoft.NET\Framework\v4.0.30319\
ngen update
cd \
cd %windir%\Microsoft.NET\Framework64\v2.0.50727\
ngen update
cd \
cd %windir%\Microsoft.NET\Framework64\v4.0.30319\
ngen update
sc stop "clr_optimization_v4.0.30319_32"
sc stop "clr_optimization_v4.0.30319_64"
sc config "clr_optimization_v4.0.30319_32" start= disabled
sc config "clr_optimization_v4.0.30319_64" start= disabled
@echo off
echo. All operations have been completed successfully.  The .net 4.0 framework services were disabled, as they are no longer needed.  This will not affect .net 4.0 applications, and your startup boot time should be back to instant!

This script is useful on all versions of Windows.  If you have a slow startup, try running this to see if it improves the situation!