Because computers don't fix themselves

Re-enable Windows Update for Printer Drivers

Many corporations want to control Windows Updates so that an errant update doesn’t accidentally download and conflict with corporate software. Usually, this process is transparent to the user, and no one likes to stop and do Windows Updates, anyway.

However, this also makes it a huge pain in the rear to get the correct Microsoft Printer Drivers for new printers being installed. usually, you can just tell it to search Windows Updates for the best printer driver, and it installs itself. But, this process comes to a screeching halt if Windows Updates are being controlled by your mythical “administrator.”

Luckily, there’s a little way around this:

Only do this if you know what you’re doing, and you’re OK with undermining your corporate policies. =)

Fillable forms in Adobe Reader / Firefox


Pre-filled and fillable forms don’t work properly in Firefox.


Apparently, Firefox added a built-in PDF viewer to their browser with release 19. Most people don’t notice the difference, as long as the pdf displays properly when you try to view it in the browser. However, if you are using a system that is supposed to pre-fill the form with data from the server, or you wish to make changes to fillable forms on the pdf document, those features are disabled in their default built-in viewer.


You can manually force Firefox to NOT use its built-in viewer, and go back to using Adobe’s PDF Viewer plug-in.

Step 1: Turn off the built-in viewer.

  • Type about:config in the address bar of Firefox, and hit enter.
  • Say yes to understanding that you can break Firefox.
  • Search for pdfjs.
  • Double click on pdfjs.disabled to change it from False to True.
  • Step 2: Re-enable Adobe in Firefox

  • In Firefox, go to Tools / Options
  • Click on the Applications Tab
  • Change all instances of Adobe Acrobat document to “Use Adobe Acrobat in Firefox”
  • Instances can be labelled:
  • Adobe Acrobat Forms Document
    Adobe Acrobat XML Data Package File
    Portable Document File

  • Click ok.
  • Paperport 14 and Memory Leak

    I wasn’t able to find a solution on the internet for this very annoying problem.

    Several of my clients use Paperport 14, but only some of them experience a situation where the Paperport.exe program will appear to freeze and, after a while, crash and close out. If you watch task manager during this time, you’ll notice Paperport.exe starting at about 17k memory usage, and then slowly start using more and more RAM until it finally uses all available RAM in the system, at which point it will crash.

    After a bunch of troubleshooting, it appears to be a conflict between the associated “Nuance PDF create” software and some other software on the computer. After uninstalling PP, and all attendant software, then, re-installing it and cancelling the installation of Nuance PDF create, the problem seems to go away. Still not 100% sure why this happens, but as long as we can get it to work, I’ll leave it at that for now. Most people don’t need the quick shortcuts to create PDF’s in their other programs, anyway. Especially since you can always print to Paperport, if need be.

    Update: Just found two broken shortcuts in the shared network folder. Removed them, and all seems well.

    Computer screen on HD TV quirk

    Today I helped a client set up his laptop to send a wireless signal to his brand new Panasonic flat screen TV using a Warpia Stream HD. I’ve set these up before, and I love them.

    This time, though, no matter how we played with the resolution, the outer edge of the screen was being cut off, which makes it very difficult to, say, close a window, or use the start menu.

    After some playing with the TV settings, it turns out that the TV’s default setting for HDMI input is to trim the outer 5% of the screen off, to try to reduce any potential digital noise around the edges. Maybe that’s fine for a TV signal, but for the computer, that clearly doesn’t work very well. The hardest part was finding the setting. It was in Picture -> Advanced -> HD Settings, and the HD mode was set to HD mode 1. I had to change it to HD mode 2. The only way to know about the whole 5% thing was to read the description of each HD mode.

    Now I know where to look if the outer edge is being trimmed off.

    iOS 6 vs. Wi-Fi

    After dutifully upgrading the iOS to 6 on all the Apple mobile devices that have been connecting to my home network for years, 50% of them wouldn’t connect to the wi-fi. A quick web search showed that many people were having this problem, and internet solutions ranged from “it’s an apple problem, it will go away,” to other complicated things like resetting the firmware in the router. Well, I tried all those things, to no avail.

    However, after simply changing my wi-fi password in my router to include a couple symbols (rather than the embarrassingly un-secure eight letter password I had before), voila! it started working again.

    I didn’t do a legitimate step by step troubleshooting process, because this was my own darn network and I just wanted the thing to work again. However, my gut tells me that the reason so many people have been having problems is that in iOS6, Apple implemented some sort of minimum security requirement to the wi-fi connectivity function, and neglected to mention this to users. I could be way off-base on this. But, I suggest, if you’re experiencing this same issue after an iOS 6 upgrade, try changing the password in your router to include letters (both capital and lower-case), numbers, and symbols, and then re-connect to it (by forgetting the network and re-connecting). This is good password practice, anyway, so it really can’t hurt. Then, see if it helps!

    “Bliss” and other Desktop Background pictures

    I recently read a neat little article about the most viewed photograph of all time. 

    The default background image for Windows XP is universally recognizable. It’s a photo of the Sonoma Valley, taken in 1996.

    You can read more about this famous photo here: Bliss – on Wikipedia

    That got me thinking more about backgrounds. Specifically, the “architecture” backgrounds in Windows 7. This is my favorite theme, and I like the pictures. But, I had no idea what buildings they were. So, I did a little research.

    Seattle Center – Space Needle, Seattle, WA.  Photo by
    Will Austin.  Read more about him here:



    Seattle Center – Experience Music Project Museum, Seattle, WA.  Photo by
    Will Austin.  Read more about him here:

    Dusseldorf Theatre – Dusseldorf Germany.

    Read the Wikipedia article here

    Seattle Center – Experience Music Project Museum, Seattle, WA.  Photo by
    Will Austin.  Read more about him here:

    Puportedly Selfridges Department Store in Birmingham, Great Britain. 

    Melbourne CityLink Gateway – Melbourne, Australia. 

      Hope you enjoy this little bit of computer trivia!

    EPHD Bios Translation Error with Symantec Encryption

    Tried to load Symantec Endpoint Encryption on a brand new Dell E6520, and got the error:

    EPHD Bios Translation Driver: bad resident memory provision using to (memory address), want resident at (memory address), available ends at (memory address).

    Simple solution: Go into the bios of the machine (hit F2 while booting up), go to SATA operation, and change it from Raid to AHCI.

    Even though most people do not use RAIDs on a single-user laptop, the E series apparently comes configured as if it were going to use a RAID. Symantec Endpoint Encryption doesn’t work on RAID-enabled machines. Change it back to AHCI, voila!

    Windows Vista/7 Recovery Screen and Encryption

    I work with a lot of computers that are encrypted for confidentiality purposes. Symantec Endpoint Encryption has all sorts of stupid “features” that annoy me to death.

    One “feature” is that it disables the keyboard and mouse for certain parts of the boot-up process. If a Windows 7 or Vista computer is shut down improperly, sometimes upon startup, it will stop at a “windows recovery” screen, and prompt you to choose which operating system you wish to boot from and/or force you to choose whether or not to try to “repair” windows. These prompts require a keyboard input. Which you can’t give it if your computer has disabled the keyboard. Catch 22. You’re stuck there until you can decrypt your machine (which can take hours), just so you can hit enter once, and then go through the process of re-encrypting it. What a pain!

    If you run this command, however, it will prevent those recovery screens from ever appearing, even if your computer is shut down improperly:

    From an elevated command prompt (Windows key+R, then type cmd[enter]):

    bcdedit /set {default} bootstatuspolicy ignoreallfailures

    the hit enter. When the command completes successfully, you’re done. Type exit to leave the DOS prompt.

    Basically, if you have Win7 or Vista, and you use Symantec Encryption (read: Ameriprise advisors), you should absolutely do this on your computer. It can save you hours of hassle later.

    Redirect virus

    I’ve been struggling with a pretty nasty bit of spyware which has hit a few client computers recently. Tonight, I think I figured out the bugger.

    It’s a typical fake “your computer has problems” spyware, which puts dozens of “corrupt hard drive” messages on the screen and generally is very annoying. If left long enough, it will also disable most anti-virus programs as well as make your desktop black, and hide not only all the icons on your desktop and your start menu, but also hide all the files on your computer.

    However, all of those symptoms are typical. This one goes one step further. It actually creates a 1 megabyte extra partition on your hard drive, flags it as bootable, and then has some malicious code in that partition which makes sure that the virus is still alive on your computer because it re-initiates itself every time you reboot the computer.

    I’ve been able to remove all the above symptoms with either combofix, or malwarebytes, and then using unhide, getting computers back up and running. But, the code in the partition causes a browser redirect which is so far un-stoppable with any of my usual tools. Only ESET online scanner even recognized it as a rootkit, but still couldn’t fix it. The rest couldn’t even see it.

    So, long story short, I was able to use UBCD 5 to boot to Parted Magic. From there, I could delete the rogue partition, and flag the main OS partition as bootable again. Reboot, and voila! We win. I still have to use malwarebytes and unhide, but that’s still better than a reformat, which is what I wound up doing before I figured this trick out.

    So, if you had spyware on your computer, thought you removed it, but you have a persistent browser redirect, this trick might work for you.

    New Facebook Scam

    I actually had to applaud the hacker who thought up this new little scam. It’s rare that someone gets me, but this guy did.

    As people who know me know, I’m not a huge facebook user. I probably should use it much more than I do. But, when I’m notified of something happening on my wall, just like most people, I will spare a moment to go see what’s happening.

    But, I got this e-mail in my inbox today. It looks EXACTLY like an official e-mail from Facebook saying that someone posted something crappy on my wall. And, without even thinking about it, I clicked on it. Sure enough, as soon as I saw the web browser trying to resolve a site name in Germany, rather than, I realized my mistake. And, luckily, I was able to click out before it loaded and potentially put any spyware on my computer. But, I was lucky. By all rights, he got me.

    Before you click on a link in an e-mail, hover over it. Usually, the tooltip will show the actual hyperlink. If the hyperlink doesn’t match what the link says, don’t risk it. Delete the e-mail.

    Even better, I should have read the fake notification from Facebook, closed the e-mail, and gone to Facebook in a browser to see for myself the nasty comment on my wall, rather than clicking on the link at all. If I were following my own advice, anyway.

    I hope this post helps other people avoid this very sneaky scam.