Oct 132019

I’ve got a HUGE library of songs on iTunes, most of them from my old CD collection. So when I have a problem with iTunes, it’s usually a big one and an incredible headache to fix.

Recently, for reasons unknown, iTunes refused to launch and then when it finally did, it moved all my music folders and files from a folder called \music to \music\Music (!!) Grrrrr.

I then reorganized my library back to its original format only to find that iTunes now had two entries for every song, podcast and audiobook: one that was real and one that was broken, denoted by “!”. Was I really going to have to select every other line on the list and delete the broken links one by one?

Looking through a number of forums I found the solution.

How to Remove Broken Song Links From Your iTunes Library

  1. Create a new Smart Playlist called ‘All Songs’, and then within that Smart PlaylistCreate a rule like ‘Artist is NOT ‘FakeArtistName‘ – whatever artist name you chose, make sure there really in no artist in your library called that:screenshot
  2. Make a regular playlist called  all-live-songs
  3. Create another Smart Playlist called Missing Songs with the following rules: Playlist is All Songs and Playlist is not all-live-songs’:
  4. Go to your All Songs playlist (which will show every good and broken track), select all the tracks and drag them to to the all-live-songs playlist. (if you have a very large library, as I do, you might want to do a couple thousand tracks at a time to not overstrain iTunes)
  5. When the tracks got copied to the empty all-live-song playlist, only the songs with true links were copied.
  6. When you copied all the songs to the empty All Live Songs playlist, only the live songs were copied.
  7. Now open up the Missing Songs Smart Playlist, which shows songs in the All Songs list (which included good and broken tracks) but are not in the all-live-songs playlist (which only included good tracks).  So what is left are all the broken songs in your library.
  8. Select all the tracks (they should all have an “!”) and press Shift-Delete — voila ! they are gone and your library now only has the good links.
Oct 012019

Let’s face it, your kids are going to be smarter than you when it comes to using technology and the web. They use it more often, their friends know more about it than your friends do and they have plenty of free time to learn more.

But you are right to be worried and do what you can to keep them safe.

There’s lots of software out there that can filter out web addresses, and many of them are bundled into security suites that you might already have loaded on your computer. OT and ICS cybersecurity is given a lot more importance these days as everything is digitized. 

But filtering software that blocks specific site addresses is not enough.

Web Proxies

Web proxies allow you to bypass your own Internet provider and browse through the proxy web site.  All that you have to do is find a web proxy site (easily found through a web search), type the web site address you would like to visit in the form they provide, and start browsing. Once you keep browsing using that form, you are protected and your real IP address is not being logged and your filtering software in unaware that this is happening.

Take Charge — the Better Alternative to Blocking

As you can see, there are a lot of workarounds if you decide to block sites with a filter to avoid retrohunting.  Like the Hydra in Greek mythology, each time you cut a head off two more grow in its place.  You will never ever get ahead of the curve if you try to put together a list of sites to block.  It’s just not possible.

So work the problem from the opposite end.  Decide what sites are acceptable and only allow those sites to be accessed.  This type of list, called a “white list” (I know, I know — I didn’t make up the name), is much more manageable and can be added to as needed.

You may already have the ability to set up a whitelist in your security software.  If not, here are recommended software you can try for 15 or 30 days free:

Sep 072019

Putting a site up on the Internet can be a very easy thing to do and yelements of web designou can do it unbelievably cheaply.  Most major web hosts have very simple do-it-yourself packages and during the early days of the Internet, those designs were acceptable. 

But users have become more sophisticated and as is the case with all marketing material, a poorly designed site will reflect badly on you and your business. 

If you are thinking about creating a web presence, I recommend that you view site like Twollow to have clear answers to these questions before you go forward. Whoever you decide to hire to design your site will appreciate the groundwork you have established.

Why Do I Want a Web Site?

There’s no wrong answer to this question.  Even “everybody’s doing it” is quite acceptable.  But you should think of your prospective web site as another tool and

What Do I Want This Site to Achieve?

  • Are you selling a product or service and want to promote it?
  • Is the website a communicate tool?
  • Do you want to increase membership in your organization?
  • Are you looking to provide a venue for people to communicate with one another?

How “Hands-On” Do I Want to Be During the Site Design? The On-Going Maintenance?

Whether you decide you have the skills to create a website, have someone in your office who can do the work, or hire an outside designer, you will still be responsible for:

  • providing the collateral and copy material
  • assisting the development of the web outline
  • providing input and approval to the overall web design and layout
  • and, of course, financing the design and the on-going maintenance costs

Once you are clear about your website’s purpose and have started organizing material to put on the web, it will become much easier to begin building the web structure, the foundation of your design.  It will save you — or the designer you hire to put together your — hours of time and plenty of $$$.

And that’s got to be a pretty good thing.
Aug 242019

This is a new trick (at least to me). I received a legitimate looking email from Amazon notifying me of a recent purchase of Windows Home Premium, which of course I did not order.

This called phishing, just another version of malware scams.

Here’s the email — I left all the links in because they no longer work and are of no danger to anyone who clicks them.  Instead of clicking on any of the links in this email, I immediately went to Amazon, my credit card accounts and paypal to verify that no real transaction had occurred.

But if you blast something like this out to enough people SOMEONE is going to fall for it (otherwise why would the Nigerian scam continue to be played?).  There are at least two reactions to this kind of email, which could result in BIG problems:

  1. What?  I didn’t order anything from Amazon !! What is going on ??!!! The danger here is if they click on any of the links in the email, which does NOT go to Amazon, but to another then click on the link and it takes them to a landing page that infects the computer or flips it into a botnet.
  2. Hey, this is not what I ordered from Amazon !! Jeez, can’t they get anything right??!! Again, by clicking on any of the links, they get more headaches than an Amazon overcharge.

This is just another cautionary tale that things are not always what they seem. Logo

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They then click on the link and it takes them to a landing page that is possibly hosted with malware, flipping their computer into a botnet, or is an advertisement for other spam services.  The point is that the spammer is ultimately using confusion (on the part of the end user) and using that to trick them into taking an action.
Jul 162019

In this bad economy where every dollar is even more precious, you might want to hang on to your computer just a slow-pclittle while longer. I go out on a lot of calls where people’s computers have slowed down and I am asked to diagnose the problem. Here’s what I look for:

Disk Space

It’s a good idea to have at least 20% of your disk be free space, so here’s how to check available space:
My Computer –>(right mouse click) Local Disk (C:) –> Properties
If you do not have sufficient free space it is time to think about either adding an additional disk drive, and moving data over to it or cleaning up your existing files.

Disk File Defragment

This used to be a much bigger fix twenty years or so ago, but is less so now. However, it is easy to do and may have some effect. Start it when you are not using computer for a long time like just before going to the bed or going out. Always analyze before defragmenting, and only defragment if it is recommended after the analysis:
Start –> All Programs –> Accessories –> System Tools –> Disk Defragmenter

Cleaning the Registry

The registry is a very important part of the Windows operating system. Almost every process run in your system relies on information in the registry. Unfortunately, when you delete an application, it does not always do the necessary housecleaning in the registry and so it may be full of a lot of unnecessary information that can slow your computer down.
My favorite free registry cleaner is CCleaner. It has advanced features to remove unused and old entries, including File Extensions, ActiveX Controls, ClassIDs, ProgIDs, Uninstallers, Shared DLLs, and much more. It also allows you to backup the registry before you make changes, so that you can roll back to the original configuration in case of a problem.

Use Alternative Software

Always look for alternative software which occupies less memory.

  • Swap out Adobe Acrobat Reader, which is a complete resource hog, for the free Foxit Reader. Foxit Reader has all the functionality of Acrobat Reader and uses far less memory.
  • Replace Internet Explorer (another resource hog) with Mozilla Firefox, a free full functional browser that I personally prefer and endorse.

Clean Up the Start-up Files

Practically every program you have ever installed on your computer configures itself to start automatically every time you turn on the computer and then runs constantly in the background. This not only makes the time it takes for you computer to get to a point where you can start using it, it is also a complete resource hog. Look over at the bottom right-hand part of your monitor — do you see a lot of icons there? Those are some of the applications that load automatically during start-up and run in the background.

You will then see this

Select the Startup Tab: you will now see all the applications that are loaded during startup:

Unclick them all (every important application will be started in the Services folder) –> Select OK –> Let the computer reboot.  Voila ! A much faster startup !

Still not so great.  Consider a memory upgrade.

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