Archive for the ‘Geekery’ Category.

Antivirus and Backups

A friend just asked, “Trying to do better with my computer. Just installed AVG for Mac and ran it. Is this a sufficient solution in terms of protecting from and eliminating malware? I’m all about easy. Thoughts?”

Here is my long winded answer:

I use Windows and all of my antivirus software is between my ears. If a website asks “Do you want to download or install xxxxx?” I think very long and hard about the people behind that request and what they have to lose. For example, Facebook won’t (overtly) screw you, they have too much to lose. But do you know who is behind the GetFreeStuffForFree! browser plugin?

Figuring out the business model of the company you are considering trusting is a good idea. Be very suspicious If the company looks to be giving everything away with nothing in return. They are getting something, or they wouldn’t be doing it.

Yes, AVG is a good idea. I also run the virus software that comes with Windows, Windows Defender.

You definitely should have your computer back up automatically online. Do this for a few reasons:
– your hard drive will fail some day, that is a certainty. Here’s an article I wrote in 2012 making that plea in more detail: https://www.lee.org/blog/2012/03/30/i-love-you-please-make-offsite-backups/
– If (when??) your computer does get hacked by some malware, a backup will save the day!
– If your computer is stolen or destroyed, a backup will save the day!
– Once you set it up, it’s automatic and EASY!

“But I don’t want to put my data online”

I hear that Time Machine is “the” app for local backups on Apple. If you don’t feel comfortable putting your files online, you can still get a lot of protection. I’ve recommended this in the past: Find 2 external drives (they cost <$80 at Staples) and a friend. Use Time Machine to back up your computer to the hard drive. Be sure to encrypt the backup (it's easy, see here: http://www.mactrast.com/2013/07/how-to-public-how-to-encrypt-time-machine-backups-with-os-x/). Give your friend the backup to keep in the back of their junk drawer. In 6 months, make another backup and trade hard drives with your friend. Can strangers break into your encrypted hard drive? If you use a 12 character or longer password (try the title of your 2 favorite songs or something similar), no. I couldn't find specific security information online about Time Machine but encryption with a long password is very secure. Harkening back to my last comment, Apple would have a LOT to lose if their encryption wasn't good. Oh and here's a funny/good password guide: https://xkcd.com/936/

Pin to Start in Windows 10

You can pin a shortcut to the Start menu in Windows 10. Note that you can’t pin a document itself to the start menu, just a shortcut to it.

Here’s how:

To add Pin to Start to the context menu for a file, you will have to modify the Windows Registry. But first, create a system restore point!

Now, to add Pin to Start easily, copy-paste the following in a Notepad and save it as a .reg file:

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

; Created by TheWindowsClub [HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\*\shellex\ContextMenuHandlers\PinToStartScreen] @=”{470C0EBD-5D73-4d58-9CED-E91E22E23282}”

Now click on the .reg file to add its contents to your registry. You will be asked for confirmation, so you may click Yes, to add it.

 

Thanks to http://www.thewindowsclub.com/pin-file-to-start-menu-windows-10  and https://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/forum/windows_10-start/pin-to-start-any-file-windows-10-pro/acb769bc-e5d9-4be9-8a76-0aff7cdab6c8?auth=1
 

How to Read an EPUB on an Amazon Fire HD Using the Kindle App

I got a book in EPUB format and wanted to read it on my Amazon Fire HD 8 (5th Generation). It’s easy to do once you know the secret recipe:

  1. Get the free Calibre e-book management tool
  2. Use Calibre to convert your EPUB file to AZW3 format (the native Kindle ebook format)
  3. Connect your Amazon Fire to your computer with a USB cable
  4. Using the USB connection, find the folder named “Books” on your Amazon Fire HD
  5. Copy the AZW3 book file into the Books folder
  6. Open your Kindle app on your Amazon Fire HD
  7. Rejoice for the books are on your bookshelf!

Before figuring this out with the great help of my friend Michael, I tried several other methods unsuccessfully. See what doesn’t work.

 

 

Email Spam Proofing on Dreamhost with DKIM

Short form: Dreamhost showed me how to implement a method of decreasing spam at the domain level called SPF. They implemented another domain level method of reducing spam, DKIM, a few months after I showed them that they hadn’t set up their system properly.

 

Long Form:

Until recently, there was nothing stopping someone from sending email from lee.org illegitimately (called “spoofing” email). A lot of spammers used it to send junk email “from” lee.org. This bothered me because:

  1. spam :-(
  2. Sometimes I’d get thousands of bounced emails
  3. It reduced the assurity that my domain wasn’t hosting spammers, so sometimes real emails I sent would be marked as spam

I talked to Dreamhost support and they showed me how to setup an SPF record for my domain. See here and here on how to do it yourself.

Dreamhost support also suggested I create the emails postmaster@ and abuse@ because “I have seen some cases even though they are very rare cases in which not having these emails set up can cause some problems with servers receiving email.” Ok, sure. So I set those addresses up.

I created an account at postmaster.google.com to periodically check if Gmail is getting any spam from my domain.

I read up on spam-proofing a domain and realized that Dreamhost hadn’t implemented DKIM. Actually, they set it up for my domain but it was left in test mode. Even in Dreamhost’s DKIM example the test flag was set (see “Example of a DKIM Record, they write: k=rsa; t=y; p=GIMfMA0G…). So I had several back and forths with Dreamhost tech support starting in February and yesterday I got an email, “Our devs finally got around to removing the test flag and now DKIM records are properly being served.” Hurray!

In conclusion, you might want to check the headers on your outgoing emails. Look for the “dkim” header. Previously, when my account was still in “test-mode”, headers looked like “dkim=pass (test mode)”. And now they look like “dkim=pass header.i=@lee.org” :-)

I Fixed It

I’ve been thinking about a new phone because my battery isn’t holding a charge as well as it used to. When I found out that a new battery cost $5, I couldn’t, in good conscience, spend $450 on a new phone!

I was nervous about tearing my phone apart but it went exactly the way the video from IFixIt.com and Gwendolyn Gay said. Mad props to them for making great tools and a great video that walked me through it. I also replaced the headphone jack that was filled with pocket lint.

Total cost: $5 battery, $8 headphone jack, $40 kit, 1.5 hours of my time.

Awesome.

PS. Midway through the repair, I had the patient lying on the kitchen table with all the screws and wires out. I thought “there is the money shot. Take a picture!” Then I remembered that I was looking down at my camera in 20 pieces.

Backups?

I use a program to back up my computer online. It’s really good, it has saved me and Megan a couple times. Would you like to trade backup space? You backup your computer to me to me for free, I backup my computer to you for free. Message me.