Windows 10 Start Menu Won’t Open

This is a problem that has plagued me before so I figured I outta write about it now so I don’t have to go back and research it all over again.  You click that windows icon in the bottom left corner of your screen and nothing happens.  Or you try and type something in the windows search bar right next to it and nothing happens.  Aggravation!

I was working on cleaning up my computer so after scanning registry files with some old Eusing software (not updated for Win10), 672 registry files were deleted.   Big mistake by me.  Anyway, all kinds of things went haywire.  Like the search feature didn’t work, screenshots didn’t work, double clicking photos or movies resulted in an error, and the start menu did not come up .  In fact the only way to pull up the basics in start menu  was to right click.  This is all caused by corrupt or missing system or registry files.

First thing you need to do is fire up Windows PowerShell and run as administrator.  If the search bar works you can put in PowerShell and select run as admin.  But, as in my case, that is not possible then you can use the Task Manager.  Open by right clicking the bottom task bar and select it.  Go to File/Run new task/ type powershell .  Check the Create this task with administrative privileges box, then OK.

First command: type sfc /scannow and press Enter.  Then wait, it will take a while.  It will say when it’s done.

PowerShell

Second command: type dism /online /cleanup-image /restorehealth and let it go through its process.

Third command: type Get-AppXPackage -AllUsers | Foreach {Add-AppxPackage -DisableDevelopmentMode -Register “$($_.InstallLocation)\AppXManifest.xml”} This will remove and reinstall Metro Modern Apps.

When these are all done, reboot and see if it works.  If not you may need to reinstall Windows 10 and that’s a whole other subject.

How to convert Google Play Books to Kindle

I made the mistake of responding to a Google ad offering me a big discount on books.  So I took it only to find out there was no obvious way to get it on my Kindle Fire HDX.  Not much in the way of money wasted but it still bothered me.  So I spent most of a Saturday morning figuring out how to convert it and put it on my Kindle.  To save you time and summarize my research here is the procedure.

  1. Download and install on your computer Adobe Digital Editions.  Use your Adobe credentials during setup.
  2. Go to My Books on Google Play on your computer, using Chrome.
  3. Find the book you want to download and click Menu vertical menu
  4. Click Download EPUB.  If it is an .acsm file that’s fine.  An ACSM file is just a link.  It stands for Adobe Content Server Manager and can only be opened by Adobe Digital Editions (ADE)
  5. Double click the .ACSM file, then it will be opened with Adobe Digital Editions as default. And a window will be opened to show the downloading eBook (Network connection is needed). If your .ACSM file is not opened by ADE as default, right click the file and select “Open with” -> “Adobe Digital Editions “.  An .EPUB file will be created in User/documents/MyDigitalEditions.
  6. ACSM doesn’t allow you to reproduce and transfer, and it can only be used on the computer where you have downloaded the books.  So now you need to remove the DRM and convert to one of Kindle’s file formats.  Kindle only supports its own formats such as AZW3, AZW, MOBI, PRC, TPZ but not the common ePub.  I found MOBI to work with mine.
  7. Next you need to download the a DRM remover and file converter.  The one I used was the Epubor Ultimate Converter download here.  It comes with a 30 day free trial and is something like $25(sale)-$60, to buy thereafter.
  8. When you open this program you should see your ADE epub files.  Simply drag the file to the right and it will be decrypted.  
  9. Then at the bottom select your Kindle output device and click convert to MOBI.  
  10. Next upload your new MOBI file from  your computer to your Kindle via usb.  In looking at my Fire files with ES or my Windows File Explorer when hooked up to my computer, I could not find where Amazon had put all my books, but there was an empty directory titled /Books so I put this new file there.  The Fire found it and listed it with all my others.  Worked just fine.

A word of warning about doing this: In the USA there is a law known as the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). This law makes it illegal to circumvent a copy protection system (DRM is such a copy protection system). It also makes it illegal to produce or distribute tools that aid in circumvention. Not everyone lives in the USA, but many countries have similar laws. Check your local laws and realize that even though you may only want to read an EPUB that you’ve legally purchased on your Kindle, it may not be legal to do so. If you don’t like this silliness—and I don’t—then speak up to whoever in your country makes the relevant laws.

Here is another library management software, that is free but will not convert DRM protected books.  On the other hand, it appears to be a sweet program for converting unprotected books.  Calibre e-book Management

Lost Fitbit, What to do?

Last weekend, my Charge Fitbit fell off my wrist while chasing our new puppy, Charlie, through the woods behind our house.  I was pretty sure that was the activity when it was lost because of the time of the last sync on my phone.  After searching the area twice guessing where I might have run through since I was off path, I found nothing.  I figured since it still had battery left, based on the date of my last charge, I had best find a way to track it down before that battery died.  This, of course led me to search it up on google.

bitfinderThe first app I found was Bit-Finder Geo.  I downloaded this on my phone and walked the area.  Quite confusing as to whether the blue tooth is supposed to be on or off.  At any rate, I got nothing.  I tried another couple of apps, with zilch results.  Until I got BLE Scanner, which searches for Bluetooth signal.  Simple and straight forward.  I saw what to look for by firing up an old Fitbit I had.  It registers the MAC number and gives it a strength rating like -75db.  I went fumbling around in the woods, almost pulled a header when, bam, the thing lit up with my correct MAC number for the missing Charge.  It was like -95.  I spent over an hour combing the area with readings going to -105 to -92.  I thought the higher the number, the closer I was.  Wrong!  Its opposite.

I gave up and went back to the Bit-Finder Geo, and decided to try it again in that area of the woods.  This time I started where the readings were but walked farther away as the signal got stronger.  It even has a little pie chart with sound effects that tell you when you are getting closer.  Like a Geiger counter.  Anyway, it got me right to where I needed to be to find the Charge.  Now I have it tracing my Charge in case it gets lost again.  Very sweet app I highly recommend.

One issue however, is that after turning off then on, the blue tooth, now my android phone blue tooth won’t recognize the fit bit, even tho it syncs just fine.  Strange.

Adobe’s big mistake

Adobe CS3 Dreamweaver Error “Licensing has stopped working”

This is what I get now whenever trying fire up Dreamweaver or Photoshop CS3.  It all started when I got my laptop back from Toshiba warranty repair.  They merely replaced the blue ray player and the battery, so after checking with them, there was nothing they did that could cause this.  Adobe has now gone to the “Creative Cloud” meaning you can “rent” their products instead of buy them.  I already use the CC version of Photoshop and Lightroom which I get for $9.99/month but to have the latest Dreamweaver they charge another $30/mo… $360/year and that’s not to own!  Out of the question, especially since most of my websites are now WordPress so I don’t need Dreamweaver nearly as much as I once did.

Of course I went through uninstall then re-install, with no change.  Then I called Adobe.  What a joke.  They no longer give chat or phone support for any of their old products, only CC stuff.  They said I had to go to the forum.  Like I’m going to get a quick answer there.  At any rate, I found many, many people have the same problem and it would happen for absolutely no reason, no change to the computer, no new files etc…. just one day they would get this error message.  You would think Adobe would have the perfect answer to solve this let alone, why the heck it happened in the first place.  The forum showed  more complaints on Macs than PCs (however, it could be that more Photoshop is installed on Macs than PCs).

The meatiest solution was nine solutions, of which the 9th was to call Adobe support, which of course is useless since they do not support CS anything any longer.  So I tried all 8 solutions, many of which had to do with permissions on the FLEXnet folder.  I must have uninstalled and installed 5 or 6 times.  Nothing worked.  I went back to the forum and tried everything else that was listed until I exhausted all possible solutions.  Very frustrating indeed.  And I will be damned if I will pay Adobe $360/year just to use their web editor.  This was about 4 hours of messing around.

So I searched up “alternatives to dreamweaver” on Google.  And lo and behold I came across Microsoft Expression Web 4.0 and its FREE!  I read this article “Why I love this free alternative to dreamweaver” and was sold (not exactly sold since its free).  After installing it, I am thrilled.  Looks quite similar to Dreamweaver and should be easy to get acquainted with.  Not sure how it will work with dreamweaver templates, but I will just have to find out as time goes by.  I also noted another free web design software OpenElement which looks to be a steeper learning curve, but if MSFT Expressions doesn’t work out, I will check it.

Microsoft Expressions 4.0

I do love Lightroom that I have on Creative Cloud but its somewhat reasonably priced at $9.99/mo and includes Photoshop, and its always the latest version.  It’s most likely going to turn out to be a bait and switch routine whereby at the end of this year (2014) they will raise the rate after getting customers addicted to their product.  Bastards!  I guess I will find out soon enough.  But the whole concept of Adobe moving to renting their software instead of out right selling it really sucks.  I’ve heard from many other web developers that are simply going to other available options that are way cheaper or even free.  I also feel a corporation should stand by their products even if they are older models/versions.  Imagine if you brought in your 2007 Chevy to a dealer and he said they no longer service them, you have to buy a new one, oh wait.. you have to RENT a new one.  Big mistake Adobe, I hope you suffer in sales because of this.

How to Remove Malware

Note:  I found this excellent guide to removing most forms of malware, on the website MalwareTips.com. The only thing I would add is its best to run most of these programs in SAFE MODE.  I had a very difficult piece of malware that I got by visiting piratebay.com and by going through these steps I was able to finally get rid of it.

Anything with the following words are often problems.  Look in services that are running, also :
conduit (here is a Mozilla page on how to get rid of this and here also)
updater kb70007
windowsupdater
privoxy
 
Also check your browser network settings. Often the malware will change them to a proxy server 127.0.0.1 which is a loopback. Your browser should have no proxy selected.

Remove “Warning! Critical update!” virus (Removal Guide)

“Warning! Critical update!” pop-up is a social engineering technique, which is used cybercriminals to install adware and other malicious programs on users machines.
[Image: Warning! Critical update! virus]

[Image: Warning! Critical update! redirect]
“Warning! Critical update!” virus is distributed through several means. Malicious websites, or legitimate websites that have been compromised, may drop this Trojan onto a compromised computer. This drive-by-download often happens surreptitiously. Another method used to propagate this type of malware is spam email containing infected attachments or links to malicious websites. The threat may also be downloaded manually by tricking the user into thinking they are installing a useful piece of software.
“Warning! Critical update!” virus is also prevalent on peer-to-peer file sharing websites and is often packaged with pirated or illegally acquired software.

On infected or compromised websites, cybercriminals will display a pop-up box stating that your Internet Explorer, Firefox or Chrome needs to be updated. If you click on the “Install Update” button, instead of installing an update, you’ll be prompted to install adware or another malicious program on your computer.
The text of this pop-up is:

Warning! Critical Update!

The following important update is available for your computer. Install update

The “Warning! Critical update!” link may install on your computer, toolbars (Babylon Toolbar, Delta Toolbar), adware (Yontoo, DealPly, CouponBuddy), and in the more recent attacks cyber criminals have started infected the Windows users with the Zeus Trojan.
[Image: Warning! Critical update! infection]
This infection is designed specifically to make money. It generates web traffic, collects sales leads for other dubious sites, and will display advertisements and sponsored links within your web browser.

Depending on what is causing the “Warning! Critical update!” redirect, the malware removal process can be different for each particular case, however using the below guide, you should be able to remove this infection from your computer.

You should always pay attention when installing software because often, a software installer includes optional installs, such as this “Warning! Critical update!” adware. Be very careful what you agree to install.
Always opt for the custom installation and deselect anything that is not familiar, especially optional software that you never wanted to download and install in the first place. It goes without saying that you should not install software that you don’t trust.

How to remove Warning! Critical update! virus (Removal Guide)

This page is a comprehensive guide, which will remove the Warning! Critical update! infection from your your computer. Please perform all the steps in the correct order. If you have any questions or doubt at any point, STOP and ask for our assistance.
STEP 1: Remove Warning! Critical update! Master Boot Record infection with Kaspersky TDSSKiller
STEP 2: Remove Warning! Critical update! virus with Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Free
STEP 3: Remove Warning! Critical update! trojan with RogueKiller
STEP 4:  Remove Warning! Critical update! infection with HitmanPro
STEP 5: Double check for any left over infections with Emsisoft Emergency Kit
STEP 6: Remove Warning! Critical update! adware with AdwCleaner

STEP 1:  Remove Warning! Critical update! trojan with Kaspersky TDSSKiller

As part of its self defense mechanism, Warning! Critical update! virus will install a ZeroAccess rootkit on the infected computer.In this first step, we will run a system scan with Kaspersky TDSSKiller to remove this rookit.

  1. Please download the latest official version of Kaspersky TDSSKiller.
    KASPERSKY TDSSKILLER DOWNLOAD LINK(This link will automatically download Kaspersky TDSSKiller on your computer.)
  2. Double-click on tdsskiller.exe to open this utility, then click on Change Parameters.
    Kaspersky TDSSKiller change settings
  3. In the new open window,we will need to enable Detect TDLFS file system, then click on OK.
    Kaspersky TDSSKiller Detect TDLFS file system
  4. Next,we will need to start a scan with Kaspersky, so you’ll need to press the Start Scan button.
    Kaspersky TDSSKiller start scan
  5. Kaspersky TDSSKiller will now scan your computer for Trojan Warning! Critical update! infection.
    Kaspersky TDSSKiller scan
  6. When the scan has finished it will display a result screen stating whether or not the infection was found on your computer. If it was found it will display a screen similar to the one below.
    Kaspersky TDSSKiller results
  7. To remove the infection simply click on the Continue button and TDSSKiller will attempt to clean the infection.A reboot will be require to completely remove any infection from your system.

STEP 2: Remove Warning! Critical update! virus with Malwarebytes Anti-Malware FREE

Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Free is a powerful on-demand scanner which will remove Warning! Critical update! malicious files from your computer.

  1. You can download Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Free from the below link, then double-click on the icon named mbam-setup.exe to install this program.
    MALWAREBYTES ANTI-MALWARE DOWNLOAD LINK(This link will open a download page in a new window from where you can download Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Free)
  2. When the installation begins, keep following the prompts in order to continue with the setup process, then at the last screen click on the Finish button.
    [Image: Malwarebytes Anti-Malware final installation screen]
  3. On the Scanner tab, select Perform quick scan, and then click on the Scan button to start searching for the Warning! Critical update! malicious files.
    [Image: Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Quick Scan]
  4. Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware will now start scanning your computer for Warning! Critical update! virus as shown below.
    [Image: Malwarebytes Anti-Malware scanning for Luhe.Sirefef.A
  5. When the Malwarebytes Anti-Malware scan has finished, click on the Show Results button.
    [Image: Malwarebytes Anti-Malware scan results]
  6. You will now be presented with a screen showing you the computer infections that Malwarebytes Anti-Malware has detected. Make sure that everything is Checked (ticked), then click on the Remove Selected button.
    [Image: Malwarebytes Anti-Malwar removing Warning! Critical update! virus]
  7. Once your computer will restart in Windows regular mode, open Malwarebytes Anti-Malware and perform a Full System scan to verify that there are no remaining threats.

STEP 3: Remove Warning! Critical update! rootkit with RogueKiller

RogueKiller is a utility that will scan for the Warning! Critical update! rootkit, registry keys and any other malicious files on your computer.

  1. You can download the latest official version of RogueKiller from the below link.
    ROGUEKILLER DOWNLOAD LINK (This link will automatically download RogueKiller on your computer)
  2. Double click on RogueKiller.exe to start this utility and then wait for the Prescan to complete.This should take only a few seconds,  then click on the Scan button to perform a system scan.
    [Image: RogueKiller scaning for Warning! Critical update! virus]
  3. After the scan has completed, press the Delete button to remove Warning! Critical update! malicious registry keys or files.
    [Image: RogueKiller Detele button]

STEP 4: Remove Warning! Critical update! infection with HitmanPro

HitmanPro is a cloud on-demand scanner, which will scan your computer with 5 antivirus engines (Emsisoft, Bitdefender, Dr. Web, G-Data and Ikarus) for the Warning! Critical update! infection.

  1. You can download HitmanPro from the below link:
    HITMANPRO DOWNLOAD LINK (This link will open a web page from where you can download HitmanPro)
  2. Double-click on the file named HitmanPro.exe (for 32-bit versions of Windows) or HitmanPro_x64.exe (for 64-bit versions of Windows). When the program starts you will be presented with the start screen as shown below.
    HitmanPro scanner
    Click on the Next button, to install HitmanPro on your computer.
    HitmanPro installation
  3. HitmanPro will now begin to scan your computer for Warning! Critical update! trojan.
    HitmanPro detecting for Warning! Critical update! virus
  4. When it has finished it will display a list of all the malware that the program found as shown in the image below. Click on the Next button, to remove Warning! Critical update! virus.
    HitmanPro scan results
  5. Click on the Activate free license button to begin the free 30 days trial, and remove all the malicious files from your computer.
    [Image: HitmanPro 30 days activation button]

STEP 5: Double check for any left over infections with Emsisoft Emergency Kit

  1. You can download Emsisoft Emergency Kit from the below link,then extract it to a folder in a convenient location.
    EMSISOFT EMERGENCY KIT DOWNLOAD LINK ((This link will open a new web page from where you can download Emsisoft Emergency Kit)
  2. Open the Emsisoft Emergency Kit folder and double click EmergencyKitScanner.bat, then allow this program to update itself.
    EmergencyKitScanner.bat file
  3. After the Emsisoft Emergency Kit has update has completed,click on the Menu tab,then select Scan PC.
    Emsisoft Emergency Kit scan tab
  4. Select Smart scan and click on the SCAN button to search for “Antivirus Security 2013″ malicious files.
    Emsisoft Emergency Kit smart scan
  5. When the scan will be completed,you will be presented with a screen reporting which malicious files has Emsisoft detected on your computer, and you’ll need to click on Quarantine selected objects to remove them.
    Emsisoft Emergency Kit removing malware

STEP 6: Remove Warning! Critical update! adware with AdwCleaner

The AdwCleaner utility will scan your computer for Warning! Critical update! malicious files that may have been installed on your computer without your knowledge.

  1. You can download AdwCleaner utility from the below link.
    ADWCLEANER DOWNLOAD LINK (This link will automatically download AdwCleaner on your computer)
  2. Before starting AdwCleaner, close all open programs and internet browsers, then double-click on the AdwCleaner icon.
    [Image: AdwCleaner Icon]
    If Windows prompts you as to whether or not you wish to run AdwCleaner, please allow it to run.
  3. When the AdwCleaner program will open, click on the Scan button as shown below.
    [Image: Adwcleaner Scan]
    AdwCleaner will now start to search for Warning! Critical update! malicious files that may be installed on your computer.
  4. To remove the Warning! Critical update! malicious files that were detected in the previous step, please click on the Clean button.
    [Image: AdwCleaner removing infections]
    AdwCleaner will now prompt you to save any open files or data as the program will need to reboot the computer. Please do so and then click on the OK button.

Your computer should now be free of the Warning! Critical update! infection. If your current anti-virus solution let this infection through, you may want to consider purchasing the PRO version of Malwarebytes Anti-Malware to protect against these types of threats in the future, and perform regular computer scans with HitmanPro.

Toshiba P50 Laptop

A year ago, I bought a Toshiba P50-A laptop and have had nothing but problems.  i7 processor, 12G RAM, Blue-Ray DVD player, 15″, 1TB HD.  After loading up my programs and data, I found that the lit keyboard wasn’t lighting.  Tech support had me do a complete restore, wiping all my programs and data, only to find they had omitted that feature in error.  Therefore I had to re-setup my pc all over again.  Then the email didnt work, could not connect via network to my Vista pc, so had to do another full system recovery.  Then the Toshiba webcam didn’t work, which was solved with an easy download.  Wireless did work but the network ethernet connection did not.  I analysed the heck out of it, and finally determined it must be the NIC card…. but to have that fixed on warranty they would have to do full restore, again wiping my HD, plus I had to ship the computer back, leaving me without it for 2 weeks.  So I figured I will just use wireless off my router.

Then about 6 months into my ownership of this Toshiba lemon, the blu-ray DVD-ROM stopped working.  It would not acknowledge cds, dvds, and not play dvd blu-ray movies.  To get it repaired under warranty would require sending it in (10-14 days without) and them doing system restore wiping the HD.   This was quite frustrating since swapping out a DVD-ROM is incredibly simply.  Two screws and it pops right out.   They could have sent me the replacement.  I found the cost of a new one to do it myself was $410 with shipping, whereas I could buy a portable DVD player for $35 on Amazon.  Again a worthless Toshiba warranty considering what one must go thru to take advantage of it.

Now most recently, the battery icon is warning me to replace the battery, plus its not recharging back to the full state.  So I turn the piece of junk over expecting to find a hatch to get at the battery and find that the genius’s at Toshiba have made it not accessible.  Its inside the unit.  So… every time you need to replace the battery (and that appears to be every 12 months) you need to tear apart the laptop or if under warranty, send it back to Toshiba to replace … and wipe your hard drive.. thank you very much.  🙁  Incredible.  If I open the laptop, I void the warranty, otherwise I would have sent it to the repair facility without the hard drive.

The Toshiba website is also built with frustration in mind.  I could not even find a place to order the battery, or the replacement blu-ray player.  Or easily find out how to open the unit.    They sent me to National Parts, which was somewhat helpful.  I will never, ever buy a Toshiba laptop or any Toshiba product ever again!

Follow up:  I ended up sending my laptop in for warranty on 10/27/14 and got it back 8 days later on 11/4.  I had to pay $30 for the shipping FedEx and a special box, but that did make it easier than packing it up myself.  I pasted a note on the laptop saying not to run restore and if they felt they had to, then to call me first.  They replaced the dvd/blueray player and the battery and left my HD intact.  The battery warranty was only for a year and actually I had called it in a week or two after that 12 month period, so I appreciate them replacing it at no cost.  Part of the reason it went bad so soon was because I should have been running it down at least monthly, which I hadnt been doing.  I didnt realize this till after the fact and reading some documentation.  All in all, the warranty process was good, except it would have been better if there had been a local shop I could have taken it to, rather than mailing it.