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Tue, Jan 28, 2020 10:16 pm

Determining the time a registry key was last updated

When I ran a scan of a Windows System with Spybot Search & Destroy 1.62, it reported it found a Windows registry key associated with GhostMail - it identified GhostMail as adware. To check the registry key, I typed regedit in the "Type here to search" field at the bottom of the screen and then selected the "Registry Editor" app when it appeared in the list of returned results (you can also open the application by typing regedit and hitting enter at a command prompt. I then navigated to the relevant key. I wanted to determine when the registry was created or at least when it was last modified. You can't see that information in the Windows Registry Editor, but you can create a text file that will contain that information by right-clicking on a key and choosing "Export" to generate a text file - select "Text Files (*.txt)" in the "Save as type" field, not the default value of "Registration Files (*.reg)." The text file will contain the key as well as the time it was last written to:

Key Name:HKEY_USERS\S-1-5-21-3084690208-3888753220-1328190817-1115\Software\Albert Yale
Class Name:<NO CLASS>
Last Write Time:8/16/2019 - 10:54 PM

In this case, the date on the key was months ago, so didn't explain recent problems on the user's PC and since Spybot - Search & Destroy didn't locate anything else, the registry key may have been a remnant of something removed many months ago.

[ More Info ]

[/os/windows/registry] permanent link

Mon, Jan 27, 2020 10:10 pm

SUPERAntiSpyware Installation Blocked by Windows Defender

I downloaded SUPERAntiSpyware Free Edition version version 8.0.1048, an antivirus program, from the developers website on January 27, 2020. When I attempted to install it by right-clicking on the file and choosing "Run as administrator, a Windows Defender window popped up with the message below:

Windows protected your PC

Windows Defender SmartScreen prevented an unrecognized app from
starting. Running this app might put your PC at risk.
More info

When I clicked on the "X" at the top-right, hand corner of the window, the message went away, but the installation did not start.

[ More Info ]

[/security/antivirus/SUPERAntiSpyware] permanent link

Thu, Jan 02, 2020 10:06 pm

Memory for a Dell Inspiron 570 PC

A user reported her Windows 10 system was running slowly. When I connected to the system remotely to check it after the user had left for the day and closed all the applications she had running, I found that the memory utilization was 78%. I knew the system was a Dell PC, but I didn't remember the model number. I was able to determine it was an Inspiron 570 by right-clicking on the Windows Start button and choosing System. Under "Device specifications," I saw "Inspiron 570". I also saw that the system had only 3 GB of memory installed.

Inspiron 570
Processor: AMD Athlon(tm) II X2 240 Processor 2.80 GHz
Installed RAM: 3.00 GB (2.75 GB usable)

[ More Info ]

[/hardware/pc/memory] permanent link

Wed, Jan 01, 2020 10:15 pm

Minecraft libraries failed to download

When I tried to install Minecraft on a Microsoft Windows system using the Windows Installer file I had downloaded, I saw the error message "These libraries failed to download. Try again. org.ow2.asm:asm-all:5.2."

Libraries failed to download

I then clicked on the link for "Installer" rather than "Windows Installer on the website from which I had downloaded the installation file, which resulted in a .jar file being downloaded. I right-clicked on the .jar file, forge-1.12.2-14.23.5.2768-installer.jar, and chose "Open with" then "Java(TM) Platform SE binary". I was then able to install the Minecraft client. When the client was successfully installed, I saw the message "Successfully installed client profile forger for version forge 1.12.2-14.23.5.2768 into launcher and grabbed 1 required libraries."

Successfully installed client profile forge

Note: These are notes from an October 12, 2019 installation that I hadn't posted, but I am posting now in case I encounter a similar error again.

[/os/windows/software/games/minecraft] permanent link

Fri, Nov 15, 2019 7:47 pm

Comparing Excel workbooks in Microsoft Excel for Mac

I needed to compare two Excel workbooks produced with Microsoft Excel for Mac (version 16.29) on my MacBook Pro laptop. Unfortunately, the MAC version of Excel doesn't include a capability to directly compare two workbooks. Since both workbooks only had one worksheet in them, I created a new workbook and then copied the contents of the worksheet in the first workbook to Sheet1 in the new workbook and the contents of the worksheet in the second workbook to Sheet2 in the new workbook. I copied the contents of the worksheets by selecting Edit and then Select All in a worksheet and then pasting the contents into a sheet in the new workbook. I then created a third worksheet, Sheet3 in the new workbook. In cell A1 in that workbook, I put the formula =IF(Sheet1!A1 <> Sheet2!A1, "Sheet1:"&Sheet1!A1&" vs Sheet2:"&Sheet2!A1, ""). I clicked in that cell and then clicked on Edit and then Copy. Since the columns in both of the worksheets I wanted to compare extended to AE with 804 rows, I then selected all of the columns from A to AE and all rows from 1 to 804 and then clicked on Edit and then Paste Special with All selected. I then clicked on OK to copy the formula throughout the new worksheet. Excel automatically updates the references so that B2, for instance, gets the formula =IF(Sheet1!B2 <> Sheet2!B2, "Sheet1:"&Sheet1!B2&" vs Sheet2:"&Sheet2!B2, "").

Excel then showed the differences between Sheet1 and Sheet2 in Sheet3 where I had used a formula to compare cells in the two other sheets. If the contents of a cell differed, Excel showed the differences. E.g. for cell A71, I saw Sheet1:I13-0003 vs Sheet2:I97-0033, since Sheet1 had I13-0003 in that cell whereas Sheet2 had I97-0033 . If the cells matched, the corresponding cell in Sheet3 was empty.

So, even though the Mac version of Excel doesn't include the workbook comparison feature found in Windows versions of the program described at How to compare two Excel files for differences, you still may be able to compare sheets in two Excel files by copying relevant sheets into a new sheet where you can see the differences displayed. In the exmple above, the contents of E71 in Sheet3 showed the values for the other sheets as numeric values, though there were dates in the corresponding cells in Sheet1 and Sheet2.

[ More Info ]

[/software/office/excel] permanent link

Tue, Oct 22, 2019 9:22 pm

Memory for a Gigabyte 970A-DS3P Motherboard

I needed to determine the amount of memory currently in a PC running the Windows 10 operating system and how much more memory could be added to the system in order to improve its performance. To determine how much memory could be added, since it was a custom-built PC, I needed to determine the motherboard in the system. I didn't want to disconnect every device attached to it and open it up, so an option is to use Windows Management Instrumentation Command-line (WMIC) commands to determine the motherboard manufacturer and model number. You can also use WMIC commands to obtain details about the memory already in a system.

[ More Info ]

[/hardware/pc/memory] permanent link

Wed, Jul 24, 2019 10:26 pm

Publishers Clearinghouse Scammer

On Tuesday, July 23, 2019, I received a call from someone pretending to be a representative of Publishers Clearing House (PCH) who identified himself as Tony WIsh and told me I had won 5 1/2 million dollars, a Mercedes Benz, and free petrol for a year for the vehicle - obviously he was not someone who grew up in the U.S. to use "petrol" rather than "gas." He asked me what color car I wanted and whether I wanted the money all at once or in monthly payments and then requested personal information from me to ostensibly fill out a tax form. I asked him for a call back number as an assurance that he wasn't a scammer and he gave me the number 805-399-4139. I asked him where he was located and he told me was at the PCH headquarters in Washington, D.C., though when I immediately looked up the number, I saw it was a California number. When I pointed that out to him, he said that all PCH representatives get 8 numbers, claiming it was so the people they contacted would not have long distance charges, though the number he gave was not a local one for me. When I asked several times what street the headquarters was on in Washington, D.C., he repeated "you are breaking up." I hung up at that point.

For anyone who might receive such a call and think it could be legitimate, Publishers Clearing House states on their Fraud Protection page that "Our major winners are notified by mail or in person (at our option) and we never phone ahead to disclose that someone has won a major prize."

I filed a complaint at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Consumer Complaints website as I usually do when I get calls from such scammers intent on defrauding those they call. I also filed a complaint at the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Complaint Assistant site at where you can select the "Rip-offs and Impostor Scams" option.

[/security/scams] permanent link

Mon, Jul 15, 2019 10:53 pm

Scammer calling from 210-361-8678

I received a call from 210-361-8678 on my cellphone today. The call was obviously from a scammer as the message included some statement about my social security number (SSN) and legal action that would be taken against me if I didn't call the number from which I was called - I didn't note the exact message, but I found someone at the Whycall.me site at Phone: 210-361-8678 reporting a message that seemed similar if not the same as what I had heard. The other person reported he or she received the message below on July 16, 2018:

Security number is used for some fraudulent activities and due to that we have in order to suspend your social security number right away from the Law and enforcement Department and also to freeze your bank accounts before we go ahead and do that. If you need any further information about it kindly call back at 210-361-8678. Once again that's 210-361-8678. Thank you.

There were numerous other people reporting similar calls where someone was referencing a problem with the person's SSN and advising the person to call 210-361-8678. The call is obviously an attempt to defraud those called. I went to the FCC Consumer Complaint webpage and filed a complaint. I received an email response to the form I submitted with a ticket number. The email response from the FCC stated "The FCC is committed to doing what we can to protect you from these unwelcome interruptions to your day. Unwanted calls, including illegal and spoofed robocalls, are the largest category of complaints the FCC receives." It is troubling, though, that some fraudster has been engaged in this activity using the 210-361-8678 number for a year with no action taken against him. The first report I saw on the Whycall.me site was on July 16, 2018, but I saw others reporting the same issue on that webpage from that date through July 15, 2019. The Whycall.me site allows one to search for reports filed by other people on calls from telemarkers and scammers. The site describes itself thusly:

Whycall.me is a consumer complaints board used to report telemarketers, robocallers, scammers, and debt collectors that violate the law. We receive more than 6,000 complaints each month, which helps potential victims identify and avoid answering calls from problematic phone numbers. Our global phone book of numbers is powered by crowdsourcing and online data sources.

The site's homepage advises users of the site to also report the calls to relevant government agencies, which it lists. For the number that called me, the site listed the following information:

San Benito, Texas
Its exchange 361 is managed by SOUTHWESTERN BELL - TX
The number is currently on switch number SNBNTXSBDS0 (switch is a technical specification, provided here for phone hobbyists)
Around 20% of people reported it as "Recorded Message"
You are the 2nd person to search for it here.
There has been a total of 30 comments left about the number.
Latest people reported the number as that of "SCAM, "Social Security'"

I registed an account at the site and posted a note about the call I received today.

[/security/scams] permanent link

Fri, Apr 19, 2019 10:01 pm

Extract images from a PDF file with Python

You can use the PyMuPDF module with Python to extract images from a PDF file. You can install PyMuPDF using the pip package manager with the command pip install PyMuPDF . You can determine if it is already installed with the command pip list | grep PyMuPDF or pip freeze | grep PyMuPDF.

# pip list | grep PyMuPDF
DEPRECATION: Python 2.7 will reach the end of its life on January 1st, 2020. Ple
ase upgrade your Python as Python 2.7 won't be maintained after that date. A fut
ure version of pip will drop support for Python 2.7.
PyMuPDF                          1.14.13
# pip freeze | grep PyMuPDF
DEPRECATION: Python 2.7 will reach the end of its life on January 1st, 2020. Ple
ase upgrade your Python as Python 2.7 won't be maintained after that date. A fut
ure version of pip will drop support for Python 2.7.
PyMuPDF==1.14.13
#

The code for the file is in extract-PDF-image.py.

[ More Info ]

[/languages/python] permanent link

Mon, Mar 25, 2019 11:07 pm

Determining which process has a file open with Process Explorer

When I attempted to copy an Outlook .ost file to an external USB flash drive, I saw the message below:

An unexpected error is keeping you from copying the file. If you continue to receive this error, you can use the error code to search for help with this problem.

Error 0x80070021: The process cannot access the file because another process has locked a portion of the file.

I didn't have Outlook open and didn't know what other process was using the file. One way to find out which process has a lock on a file is to use the Process Explorer utility provided by Microsoft. The program is free and you don't need administrator rights on a system to use it. To determine a process that is using the file, you can hit the Ctrl and F keys simultaneously, which will bring up a search box where you can type the name of the relevant file. When you click on the Search button, you should be able to see the name of the process that has a lock on the file as well as the process ID (PID) for that process. E.g., in this case I could see that lync.exe was using the file.

[ More Info ]

[/os/windows/processes] permanent link

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