Dead Laptop Battery

If you have a laptop battery that won’t hold a charge usually it is a good idea to just replace it. But if you want to try a homebrew method to restore it there is some hope.

Put your dead battery in a zip lock back and freeze it for 12 hours. Afterwards, dry it off with a towel and put it in your laptop and charge it fully. Leave your laptop on until it is sufficiently drained and repeat this two more times.

This should help your battery memory so that it will hold a decent charge for awhile.

WoL (Wake on Lan)

WoL is useful for remote computers that perform specific tasks that do not require users. It can also be used for remote maintenance: if you shut down your computer and the technician needs access to it with WoL they can start it up, do their maintenance, then shut it down.

There is the problem of getting it to work, however. With the introduction of Windows 8, Microsoft added a “Fast User Switching” feature. With this introduction came a system to completely shut down your computer without any monitoring. Imagine you turn off your TV then the remote will not turn it back on because it turned off even the circuit that monitors that. With “Fast User Switching” Windows does exactly that. You will need to go the power settings under “what the computer does when you press the power button” to turn off this feature.

Another problem with some computers that is not Windows related, but essentially does the same thing, is in the BIOS you can tell the computer to go into a very deep sleep. This effectively does the same thing but at the machine level. You will need to go into the BIOS and turn this off or to a less deep sleep. While you are there you will also need to turn on the network adaptors WoL feature.

You can find several good programs on the internet that will wake up a computer and some with timers that will turn them on and off on a schedule.

Viruses, Trojans and Malware, oh my!

There are a lot of rumors about ransom-ware out there that many of you may not believe.  Something like it won’t happen to me.  Well, it is out there and it can happen, even to you.    There are many ways of distributing ransomware and other threats to your computer that you will not even see until it’s too late.  Ransomware is delivered through Viruses, Trojans, and Malware.  Yes, all of these are delivery methods.  The most common form of delivery is self-inflicted.  

Self-inflicted delivery is not new. You have probably seen it on websites and in your email (mostly as spam).  As an email, it is usually an attachment and can be opened by easily clicking on it.  On web pages, it is in the form of a click-through ad or article which by coincidence is also easily clickable.   When you click on this email or ad or whatever else is lurking out there you are inviting it to install itself and/or activate it.  This, unfortunately, bypasses the base defenses of most all anti-virus programs protecting you from just this sort of thing happening in the first place.

The unfortunate part is that because you load initiate the loading of the program your virus program does not do as thorough a job of checking out its validity.  This often causes the evil/insidious program to be able to install itself when it would normally be blocked.

I have found that the most common delivery is through email.   This is because with the right wording most people will open anything.  Don’t be most people!  Email can be spoofed to make it look like it came from someone or someplace you think you know.  The best rule here is if you are not expecting an attachment from an email you know, don’t open it even if it looks ok.   Treat ALL attachments like they will destroy your computer.  If necessary, email or call the person sending the attachment and ask if it’s legitimate.

With websites, you need to be cautious too.  Don’t click on banners or other ads.  There are more and more every day that is coming up as malicious software installers.   If you are downloading something make sure you download the right object.  A lot of free software sites make it difficult to tell which button is the actual download button.  Try avoiding free stuff as much as possible.  And if you do download something run it through your virus program before you do anything.  This is usually as simple as right-clicking on the file and choosing the virus program from the pop-up menu.

Remember, only YOU can prevent cyber fires.

Mapping a network drive

There are several different ways to map a network drive in Windows. Each way is, although different, basically the same. They all achieve the same end result and can be used interchangeably.

1. Use Windows Explorer
2. Use command prompt “Net Use”
3. Use Group Policy Editor

In Windows Explorer there are actually two ways of doing this. The easiest is to expand the network and then choose the computer which has the directory you want mapped. Then just left click on the directory and choose map network drive. All that is left after that is to assign the drive letter. The second method is in the Explorer header there is an option to Map Network Drive. This option will open a similar window without a drive mapping already filled in. You can now either browse for the folder or can type it in directly using the UNC of the folder.

If you want to use the command prompt you can use a command “Net Use”. With this command you can map drive letters and printer shares. You just need to know what the share name is.

Ex: net use x: \\mysharedcomputer\sharename

There are more options with net use that you can use to enter login credentials and such you can get a list by typing “net use /?”.

The last option is with group policy manager. This option is great for a server side configuration. There are a lot of things you can do the group policy manager but for now let us concentrate that you can map network drives. The best reason for doing it this way is for multiple people that need to share the same resource. It transcends changing of both computers and people. Setup correctly the only thing you need to do with group policies enabled is to attach the computer to the network and everything else is done for you. You can map network drives, printers, establish login policies, create defaults for internet explorer, assign local privileges, basically almost anything can be tweaked to your desire here and automatically update when the user logs on. All of these things can managed down to granular settings either by user, computer or even operating system. Any one all three or any combination thereof.

On your server based Group Policy Management Editor under “User Configuration” go to “Preferences” / “Windows Settings” then use “Drive Maps”. You can also setup login scripts and use the “net use” command from within these scripts.



If you would like to insert symbols to something you are typing you can do it with one simple method.  Use the Alt key like a shift key and hold it down while you type any of the following number combinations.  When you release the Alt key you will see the corresponding symbol in your text.

 Alt + 0153….. ™… trademark symbol

 Alt + 0169…. ©…. copyright symbol

 Alt + 0174….. ®….registered ­ trademark symbol

 Alt + 0176 …°……degree symbol

 Alt + 0177 …±….plus-or ­-minus sign

 Alt + 0182 …¶…..paragr­aph mark

 Alt + 0190 …¾….fractio­n, three-fourths

 Alt + 0215 ….×…..multi­plication sign

 Alt + 0162…¢….the ­ cent sign

 Alt + 0161…..¡….. ­.upside down exclamation point

 Alt + 0191…..¿….. ­upside down question mark

 Alt + 1…….….smiley face

 Alt + 2 ……… smiley face   

 Alt + 15…..…..sun

 Alt + 12………..female sign

 Alt + 11…..……m­ale sign

 Alt + 6…….…..spade

 Alt + 5…….…… ­Club

 Alt + 3…….…… ­Heart

 Alt + 4…….…… ­Diamond

 Alt + 13………..e­ighth note

 Alt + 14………… ­beamed eighth note

 Alt + 8721…. …. N-ary summation (auto sum)

 Alt + 251…..…..square root check mark

 Alt + 8236…..….. ­infinity

 Alt + 24…….….. ­up arrow

 Alt + 25………… ­down arrow

 Alt + 26…..…..r­ght arrow

 Alt + 27………..l­eft arrow

 Alt + 18…..……u­p/down arrow

 Alt + 29………lef­t right arrow

For a comprehensive list you could go here:
Facebook Symbols


Windows 10 Virtual Desktop

Like the Mad Hatter in Wonderland, Microsoft now has a built-in way of moving down for clean cups.   If you have even been in the middle of a project with windows open everywhere and suddenly needed to switch to something else but still needed all those lovely windows you will appreciate virtual desktops. They allow you to just switch to a completely clean desktop and start fresh. With the ability to switch back to the cluttered one you were so diligently working on.

Windows 10 taskbar snipitThere is a little symbol at the bottom of your screen that looks like a rectangle with a square on top of it. It sits next to the search window. If you click on this your screen will be put into a window and you will see two (more if you are already using this) miniature desktop screens on the bottom. One will be the cluttered one and the other a clean one. If you click on the clean one, then you will get a clean desktop that you can immediately start cluttering again. You can use this again to switch back to your original one. You will also see off to the right bottom a “+” button that will allow you to add more desktops as many as you desire.

While on this screen you can also drag an open program to any of the desktops you wish. This allows you to even organize all that extra clutter.

And for even quicker access there are keyboard shortcuts that allow you to move and switch without using the (dor)mouse.

Keyboard shortcuts for using Virtual Desktop in Windows 10:

  • WIN + CTRL + LEFT/RIGHT: Switch to previous or next desktop
  • WIN + CTRL + D: Create a new desktop
  • WIN + CTRL + F4: Close the current desktop
  • WIN + TAB: Launch task view

Wi-Fi 2.4Ghz vs 5Ghz

Why does this affect me?  For two reasons.  First most every device out there is using the 2.4Ghz band for Wi-Fi and some devices such as cordless phones and microwaves (yes the one in your kitchen.) use this frequency.   Second you have routers that transmit on both and devices that also transmit on both.

The first problem is that there are only 12-14 channels available to the 2.4Ghz band width and if you use an app to tell you whom is using what channel next to you, you will likely see a plethora of devices on every channel.  In my experience there are usually 5-7 channels that are overwhelmed since most people let their routers auto decide which channels to use.  There are apps out there that will show you which channels are used and you can pick one for your router that, over time, is used the least.

The second problem is something that doesn’t get addressed that often is devices and routers that can offer both bands (2.4 and 5Ghz).    If you set it up correctly this is not an issue.  But by trying to over-simplify your Wi-Fi you can create your own problem.   If both the router and device (laptop, phone, tablet…) are setup to use both then setup auto connects to both on the device the device is likely to flip flop between the two bands and will result looking like a very unstable internet connection.     Since most newer routers and devices do support both this can be very frustrating.   The simplest way around this is to forget or unsubscribe to one of the two bands.

The pros to using 2.4Ghz are its high availability and ability to go longer distances through walls and other barriers.  

The cons to using 2.4Ghz are so many things that occupy that bandwidth.

The pros to using 5Ghz are less devices clogging the airwaves and better performance and the fact that both 802.11a and 802.11b cannot use it.  See my earlier article about this.

The cons to using 5Ghz are that it doesn’t go through walls and other barriers as easily as 2.4Ghz and therefore range may be a limiting factor.  Also even though it is listed as a pro the fact that 802.11a and 802.11b cannot connect to it may mean that you lose some of your older devices.

End of Free Windows 10 Upgrade

Microsoft has announced that it will be ending it’s Free upgrade to Windows 10 program as of July 29 this year.   This is no surprise since Microsoft originally announced that It will only last a year.  Times up folks!  It’s either upgrade now or pay for the upgrade after the 29th of July.  So if you have been hesitating do it now.

The good news, for all of you who don’t want to upgrade, Microsoft will phase out the annoying upgrade pop-up after July 29th as well.  It may take a month or two but Microsoft will finally stop nagging you.

As seen on InfoWorld.

As seen on PCWorld.

As seen on the Verge.


Why is my Wi-Fi slow?

One possibility that is not always thought of for your Wi-Fi to being slower than is should be.

Wi-Fi comes in a variety of flavors. There is a, b, g, n and the new ac when buying adaptors or routers for their Wi-Fi. But do you know what they are and what you need to know about them to help your own system? The most significant differences between all these standards is the speed. There are other differences but for the purpose of this article we will focus on speed. The following is the speed ranges for each standard:

• 802.11a – 11mbs with a fallback to 5.5, 2 or even 1mbs
• 802.11b – 11mbs
• 802.11g – 54mbs
• 802.11n – 100mbs with up to 250mbs with special configuration
• 802.11ac – 433mbs up to 1.3gbs with three antenna configurations

Obviously you would want the highest speed you can get but you may not be actually getting it even if you own it. Why wouldn’t you get 433mbs out of your brand new 802.11ac router? Well the first and most obvious reason is that your computer doesn’t have an adaptor that supports it. Both the router and your computer must be able to support the ac standard before you can realize the speed difference.

The other reason may not seem so simple. That is because it doesn’t have anything to do with your relationship between your computer and the router but the relationship between the router and all the other devices around it. If you have an 802.11n router and there is a printer attached to it that can only communicate in 802.11b then the router will be adjusting to the 11mbs b standard and, therefore, force the communications between your computer and itself to comply with b standards of 11mbs. Oh, and it gets worse. If there is a neighbor that doesn’t even connect to your Wi-Fi but is within range and they use 802.11b devices, then the same thing will happen since the devices will communicate even if it is only verifying that the other exists. This happens all the time over Wi-Fi. Routers are inherently programmed to cater to the least common denominator they need to keep compatibility between everything.

Ok, this sucks. But what can be done? Most routers have the ability to fine tune to just one or two of these standards. So you could set your router to only work with g and n networks, for instance, so that your minimum only goes as low as 54mbs. Your only problem with that are devices like your printer that only works on 802.11b. You need to make sure that you only exclude up to your lowest common denominator. (Honestly, what are you still doing with a printer that old anyway?) You can also upgrade your devices to more modern standards before you do this as well. That way if everything was running 802.11n then you can get those fantastic speeds you paid for just by setting your router to only use n.

Windows XP and DNS

DNS or Directory Name Service is how your browser finds a website from a name.  For example when you type in your browser looks it up on a DNS server and gets the correct address and then opens the page for you using that address.   It would be like asking where the local pub is and someone telling you it is on 712 Main Street so you can then can go to that specific address.

Most DNS servers today update their information every 2 hours and sometimes even less.  However when XP was around the servers only updated every 24 hours or more.  If you are still running XP you can change this value with a registry edit.  This edit works on newer systems as well but most current operating systems take the shorter time into account.

The registry edit is as follows:


HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\ Services\Dnscache\Parameters
Add the DWORD value: MaxCacheTtl

then set the value (in decimal) to:  7200

That sets it to expire entries that are 2 hours or older.

Another thing that DNS does is cache negative entries.  These are simply entries that did not resolve to a legitimate address.   If you use multiple DNS providers or are checking to see when a site comes up after setting it’s DNS this could also be useful.  To do this there is another registry setting you can put in.


The registry edit is as follows:


HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\ Services\Dnscache\Parameters
Add the DWORD value: MaxNegativeCacheTtl

then set the value (in decimal) to:  0

This will tell XP to stop caching stuff that’s not there.

After you have applied either or both of these registry settings you can reset the DNS cache on your computer by opening the command prompt and typing the following:

ipconfig /flushdns

Your computer should return:

“Windows IP Configuration

Successfully flushed the DNS Resolver Cache.”