Nuke It From Space

July 2, 2014

"I say we take off and nuke the entire site from orbit. It's the only way to be sure."

I say we take off and nuke the entire site from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.
– Ellen Ripley (Aliens, 1986)

When it comes to computer viruses there is only one way to be certain that the infection has been removed for your machine.  Wipe the hard drive clean and reinstall the operating system.

Antivirus software is only effect if it blocks a virus from being loaded on to your computer.  Once a virus is installed, it often times rewrites or replaces key system files.  Undoing such alteration requires a clean install of the OS.

There are plenty of so-called “computer techies” who will be happy take your hard-earned cash, run a free antivirus program over your computer, and then claim to have “eradicated” the virus.  These fly-by-night business owners, many working out of their parents’ basement or shoddy little apartment, are doing their clients a tremendous disservice by removing the symptoms but not necessarily the cause.

Anyone can run a free antivirus program or Malwarebytes on their computer and do exactly the same thing at no cost to themselves.  The computer will in most cases appear to function correctly.  But remnants of the virus may remain making your computer susceptible to future infection.  Or worse still, it could be executing code in the background without your knowledge or consent.

The problem, however, is that most major Microsoft Windows computer manufactures have stopped including restore disks with their new systems.  Many have replaced these disks with “restore” software housed in small partition on back end of the hard drive, which does not reformat the the main Windows partition.  It simply overwrites some Windows files in an attempts to repair the operating system, but may leave a virus still lurking on your computer.

Some manufactures like Acer, Lenovo, Hewlett-Packard, and Dell do offer full restore DVD-ROM disks.  Customers must request these disks immediately after purchasing a new computer.  These disks may only be available during the initial warranty period.  Expect to pay about $20 (US).

Alternatively, you can create a Windows system image from your current Windows installation.  However, this restore image is useless if your system has already been compromised by a virus.  You would be restoring the virus along with the operating system.

Other alternatives include downloading all relative hardware drivers for your particular make and model of computer from the manufacturer’s website, and then purchase either a full or OEM version of Windows from a reputably seller like Newegg, TigerDirect, or Buy Cheap Software.

Those who have chosen to build their own systems are exempt since they already own a required copy of Windows.  Linux users are likewise exempt since full Linux install disks are readily available free of charge.  Not that Linux users need to worry about viruses.

Instructions for performing a clean install of Windows can be found at numerous sites on the Internet.  The key word to search for is “clean” install.

Every computer owner must possess the ability to install their respective operating system from scratch.  All hard drives eventually fail!  It’s not a question of if, it’s a matter of when.

Backup your data!  To be forewarned is to be forearmed.

Don’t be a victim of the local-yokel computer repair scammer.  Save your money.  Empower yourself and learn to be your own tech support.  As Francis Bacon once said:  Nam et ipsa scientia potestas est (Knowledge itself is power).

Tech News Today Wallpaper

June 17, 2014
Tech News Today Wallpaper 1920x1080

Tech News Today Wallpaper* (Click to enlarge and download).

Tech News Today with Mike Elgan is an excellent free source of daily tech news.  The TWiT Network’s flagship news program entertains and enlightens with commentary and analysis from today’s best technology journalists.  This no-holds-barred approach to newscasting is reminiscent of the days when a journalist’s only concern was for the truth.

The widescreen computer wallpaper image (1920 x 1080) above was taken from the May 22, 2014 show.  Display it proudly.  Enjoy!

* The 1440 x 900 version is also available.

Fight Spam With WINE

June 16, 2014

No one likes to see spam (unsolicited advertising and scams) in their email inbox.  The problem is that automated computer Spam filtering software can often delete important legitimate messages.  The solution for those receiving email through their ISP (Internet Service Provider) via a POP3 account is to manually eliminate unwanted email before you download it to your computer.

Email Remover 2.4 is a free solution for any computer user.  Linux users especially will find this handy program runs very well under WINE.  There is nothing to install.  Simply download the file and extract the contents to a folder in your Home directory.

Email Remover 2.4 files

Right-click on the eremove.exe file and select “Open With Wine Windows Program Loader” or use the “Open With” option and select WINE as the default program.

Right-click on eremove.exe to open with WINE

Once you have configured Email Remover 2.4, you can access your email account.

Email Remover 2.4 main screen

Click “Next” to see a list of emails in your account.

Email Remover 2.4 selection screen

Click to highlight any or all emails you wish to remove from the email server.  You can also right-click on any individual email to preview that message.  Click “Next” to confirm your selections.

Email Remover 2.4 confirmation screen

The spam is then wiped from the server.  You can now download your filtered email.  It’s that simple!

Email Remover 2.4 finished screen

Linux users should take full advantage of WINE and free Windows software.  It’s a fantastic method for adding even greater value to an already amazing free operating system.  The best of both worlds, you might say.


PCLinuxOS 2014 Repository List

June 13, 2014


The following is a list of current software repositories used by PCLinuxOS.

This list was extracted from PCLinuxOS 2014.05 through Synaptic > Settings > Repositories.  Not all repositories may be in use.  Some repositories may not be accessible from every country.  Each individual repository may contain different versions of the same software or contain different software packages.

It is recommended that users access only one repository at a time.

These links are provided for historical and research purposes only.


Memories Made In Bits and Code

June 7, 2014

Expert Software 40 Games splash screen

My father, who died in 2001, was quite the geek in his own right.  He was coding software programs by the mid-1970s for work out of necessity.  Computers existed at that time, but programs were few and far between.  If you wanted to use the computer for a specific task, you had to write your own damned program.

When Microsoft unleashed Windows 3.11 on the world, my father was elated.  Finally!  Here was a computer with programs and graphics and free email (Juno).  And games.  Lots of games.

Expert Software credits screen

Expert Software developed 40 Games for Windows 3.1x, Windows 95, and Macintosh.  Although the CD-ROM contained an install function, users could run any game on the disc by simply double-clicking the .EXE file in either of the two folders.  The file games.exe launched the main program screen.

40 Games main screen

Two of the games in particular caught and held our undivided attention.  Bulldozer and Bulldozer II are puzzle games.

The object of the game is quite simple.  Use the arrow keys to maneuver the bulldozer and push the boulders onto the targets.  The boulders can only be pushed.  A boulder can be trapped and rendered unmovable.  The game must then be reset ([F2] key) to replay that level from the beginning.

Bulldozer level one

Both games start with easy levels and get progressively more complex.

Bulldozer level one solution

As each level is completed, a box will appear that moves you to the next level.

Bulldozer level one complete

As you advance to each of the next forth levels, the game will give a pass-code that you can use to access that level if you decide to exit the game.  So you do not have to replay earlier levels each time you restart the program.

Bulldozer password for level 4 access

My father and I spent weeks playing these games in an effort to collect all of the pass-codes.  We succeeded!


4 =  BONK
8 =  NERD
12 = BURP
16 = SPUD
20 = GROK
24 = SPOT
28 = KALE
32 = PODS
36 = TAPS
40 = KRIL
44 = GNIP
48 = GORN
52 = TUIP
56 = LOUT
60 = IAOM

Bulldozer II

4 =  CLAM
8 =  SOAP
12 = FERN
16 = COIN
20 = POGS
24 = KNID
28 = BOBS
32 = FINK
36 = BABA
40 = BOUY
44 = ARLO
48 = NAGA
52 = NUNC
56 = NOLO
60 = POIT

24 Games, which contains Bulldozer I only, and 40 Games, which contains both versions, by Expert Software are no longer commercially available.  You might be able to find one or the other posted on the Web for download as abandonware, if you search Google long enough.

These games require no installation.  They may or may not run well on a modern Windows operating system, but they run beautifully in WINE on a Linux-based computer.

Old software never dies as long a we remember fondly those shared moments of joy and discovery.  My father would be pleased.



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