Some FAQs about PCs you wish you knew before you bought it!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Ultimate Boot CD for WindowsImage via WikipediaQ: Any tips on how to restore a Win XP system that crashed?

A: It'll take DAYS to get things back to working, but your system should run much better... if there are no other problems. No real tips, no shortcuts.

If the hard drive still boots, but files are corrupted, save all the data you can with an external hard drive, then just reformat and reinstall Windows. You may as well upgrade to Windows 7 while you're at it.

To save the data, try this:  There's an app in UBCD4WIN called Fab's Backup, but that app's pretty much un-updated (but still works). You will need a separate PC to create the UBCD4WIN though. You cannot download a pre-made one (unless you find an illegal one).

If the hard drive no longer boots, you will need to fix that first before you can even THINK about reinstalling Windows (any version).

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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Q: Why do I sometimes see on the file sharing sites or postings that a certain game (let's say, Diablo 3, as of June 2011) is already out in beta or something? I downloaded the file, but it's got a RAR password that no one seem to know. 

A: You got a decoy or "bait". If you read the README file that came with the decoy, you'll see that you're requested to go to a certain website (probably porn or warez) and watch a video or something and if you watch enough of it you will find the password. In reality, there is no password. The file has nothing useful in it. Its sole purpose is to drive traffic to that website and make money for the website owner that way.

Originally this used to be a scavenger hunt, as the jokers would leave one clue after another leading you on a wild goose chase, and finally leave you with a "Ha-ha, got you!" message. It's no different than people uploading gay porn to P2P under tantalizing titles like "Natalie Portman's secret sex video!" (There is no such thing. Get over it!) Basically it's a joke at your expense.

When internet advertising came along people started doing it intentionally to drive up traffic, or worse, install a bunch of crap spyware, toolbars, and other apps that gets the distributor a small amount per install, no questions asked. So they put the stuff in bait packages and you... took the bait.

See below for one such example.

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Sunday, June 19, 2011

Q: I messed up my fonts in my Windows Vista install. I had too many fonts installed, and I tried getting rid of them. Now my apps are completely messed up, things not displaying, and stuff like that. Any help?

A: Simplest way is install Font Frenzy, and let it "DeFrenzy" your font install.

Thermal compound / grease / pasteThermal paste, Image via WikipediaQ: Can I use di-electric grease instead of thermal paste when I apply my heatsink

A: Dear God, no! Dielectric grease is the EXACT OPPOSITE of thermal paste when it comes to heat conduction! Instead of passing heat, it actually insulates heat! Dielectric grease are used in engine compartments to insulate spark plugs and some wiring connectors!

What does thermal paste do any way? Thermal paste is a thermal-conductive compound, sometimes called thermal grease. You put a little between the heatsink, and the CPU, and let the pressure spread it out to an ever coverage, filling in any 'gaps' between the two solid surfaces, so the heat transfer from the hot CPU surface to the heatsink is optimal.

Di-electric grease does NOT conduct heat. Thus, no heat will transfer to the heatsink, and the CPU will overheat.

So don't do that, even though they look similar.

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Thursday, June 02, 2011

Q: What is spear phishing?

A: Regular "phishing" (pronounced just like "fishing") is basically spam e-mail spent indiscriminately to people hoping that some of them are dumb enough to click on the link and therefore enter their "real" information to be given away to scammers. It's spam technique combined with "fake login" technique. However, this is easily filtered. For example, if my bank account is at Chase, I will surely ignore all phishing attempts that wants me to reset my account at Wells Fargo or Citibank, as I don't have accounts there.

Spear phishing is a little different. Spear phishing is targeted at specific individuals in a specific organization and/or people in his/her social circle. It's still phishing, but this is highly targeted by gathering more information about the individual(s) in question. It is personalized phishing. In the example above, if the spear phishing wants to target the theoretical me, he will sent a fake login page in the name of Chase bank instead of banks I don't use.

If you know that the individual banks at a certain bank, and shops at a certain supermarket, you can sent fake logins to that individual request him/her to reset password at the bank website and/or supermarket website. This way, the fake logins are less likely to be ignored. It is "targeted" phishing, by taking advantage of 'social engineering'.

Spear phishing had been identified several months ago, but became popularized when Google pointed finger at China as origin of many spear phishing attacks aimed at Gmail users. China denies the allegations.

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