Microsoft’s generous Windows 10 upgrade offer and poor execution

Microsoft extended the free upgrade to Windows 10 offer for people that use assistive technologies.  This was a generous offer by Microsoft but poorly executed due to the fact that the upgrade failed to work.

This is an account of my experience with this upgrade.

A friend has been holding off on upgrading his trusty PC with Windows 7  because he does not like change and why change something that works?  He uses an old version of Office, Ultimate 2007 from his college days.  He works from home with his PC and Office software Word and Excel.

As the free offer was expiring soon he asked me to “assist” upgrading his Windows. (small joke)

I agreed and told him to set aside some hours for the project.  I hoped that it would go smoothly and take only a few hours, but in reality I knew it was more likely going to be painful and a time suck.  I guess I cursed the project.

He made a backup of his data.

His system was current with Windows 7 updates and running well.   First we ran Error Checking on his hard disk.  Then we went to the Microsoft Upgrade web site and clicked the Upgrade Now button.

Windows 10 upgrade for users of assistive technology

Windows 10 upgrade for users of assistive technology – Getting your upgrade ready.

The upgrade soon failed with an ugly missing file error.

Windows 10 upgrade fail

Windows 10 upgrade fail

Searching the internet revealed that numerous people had encountered this error and some offered solutions.  This one worked –

Windows 10 upgrade fail solution

Windows 10 upgrade fail solution

Except for the ugly fail, the upgrade to Windows 10 went smoothly, took about 2 hours, with numerous screens, downloads and reboots.

But another problem occurred.  When starting Word or Excel (from the old Office 2007 Ultimate suite) a mysterious window popped up, then Office showed a configuration screen.

Office 2007 error

Office 2007 error – stdole32.tlb

Office 2007 wants to configure

Office 2007 wants to configure

“No! I can’t go through this every time I open Word or Excel” my friend said as the progress bar crawled across the window.

Searching the internet revealed that numerous people had encountered this error and some offered solutions.  This one worked – uninstall and reinstall Office 2007.  Fortunately my friend had his original media and Product Key!

Now my friend just had to adjust to a new looking windows.

But it is done, he will adjust.

And he will avoid the nasty shock of Microsoft no longer supporting Windows 7 on January 14, 2020.

How satisfied were you with the experience of upgrading to Windows 10?

How satisfied were you with the experience of upgrading to Windows 10?


The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Microsoft is good for extending the offer of a free Windows 10 upgrade for users of assistive technologies.

Microsoft is bad for forcing the upgrade eventually by ending support (ie security updates), forcing us to learn to use a new interface with each Windows version and loading Windows 10 with user tracking.

Microsoft is ugly for giving out a broken upgrade, not fixing it in a timely manner, an upgrade that only a technical person could research and make work leaving typical users frustrated.

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Erasing drives for security

There are times when we want to erase all the data on a drive for security reasons, such as before we sell a computer we will want to be sure all private information is erased.

Other reasons to erase a drive include legal requirements and to be sure a virus is removed from a drive, for example, one hiding in the boot sector.

Erasing a drive is also called destroying the data, shredding the data, overwriting the data, wiping the data, sanitizing the drive and other terms.

When an operating system (Windows, MacOS, Linux) deletes a file, the data is merely marked for deletion and the data often can be recovered.  Formatting and partitioning drives to not explicitly destroy data either.  Data can also be found in drive slack space, bad blocks (remapped sectors) and Hidden Areas.

To erase a drive therefore requires that data (zeros or random numbers) be written to the entire drive.  The only way to really be sure all data is impossible to recover is to physically destroy the drive.

There are many applications that can overwrite data on a drive.  Some are freeware, some are commercial and Unix/Linux contains a utility that will do the job called “dd.”


DBAN (Darik’s Boot and Nuke) is a free utility that has been a favorite for years.  It has many methods of overwriting data including DOD methods.  Download it and make a bootable CD or USB.


KillDisk is a commercial product that is very popular.  It has many methods of overwriting data including DOD methods.  KillDisk has a free demo version that will only overwrite with zeros but this meets most needs.  KillDisk will generate a certificate to document the erasing of the drive and can run from a boot disk or an app in Windows or Linux.  The full Professional software license starts at $49.95.

Other sources of drive erasing utilities

Drive erasing is included in some applications such as CCleaner, Acronis True Image, MacOS.

Proprietary software such as those mentioned are closed source so we don’t know how they work.  Another issue is they may not work with RAID array controllers.  Some RAID array controllers have utilities built in to erase drives.

Unix/Linux dd utility

Unix and Linux have a very powerful utility included called “dd” which copies blocks of data from source to destination.  Copying zeros to every block of a drive can be as simple as

dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/sda

The dd command requires knowledge of Unix/Linux.  Use caution, it will overwrite what you tell it to.   The “lsblk” command will show you your drives.  The dd utility can be used in a bash script to document a method and include information like start time, elapsed time, computer MAC address, drive serial number, drive size, type and more.  See below for an example script.

Using a disk editor you can prove to yourself that the drive is indeed filled with zeros (or random numbers if this is what  you choose to overwrite data with).

All drive overwriting methods take time, a lot of time, hours and even days for large arrays.

Example of a Linux bash script for deleting data on a server array set to RAID 0 and screen capture of a dd script.

echo “wiper”
echo “Run with root account command line: bash wiper &> outputfile.txt”
echo “Dell server”
echo “serial number”
echo “SCSI controller ”
echo “drive /dev/”
echo “SCSI”
echo “MAC Addresses:”
cat /sys/class/net/*/address
echo “Block Devices:”
echo “Start time:”
STARTTIME=$(date +%s)
echo “dd command: (example: dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/cciss/c0d0 bs=512)”
dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/sda bs=512
dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/sdb bs=512
dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/sdc bs=512
# dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/sdd bs=512
# dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/sde bs=512
# dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/sdf bs=512
echo “End time:”
ENDTIME=$(date +%s)
echo “Elapsed time: (Integer values)”
echo “$(($ENDTIME – $STARTTIME)) seconds.”
echo “$((((($ENDTIME – $STARTTIME)) / 60))) minutes.”
echo “$((((($ENDTIME – $STARTTIME)) / 3600))) hours.”
echo “Task finished. ”

wiper.sd_linux_dd_Screenshot from 2017-09-12 16_09_59

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ransomeware and WannaCry (WanaDecrypt0r, Wanna Decryptor)

Ransomeware holds your data for ransom by encrypting it then demanding a payment to unencrypt it.  If you don’t have a backup of your data or pay the ransom, you loose your data.  Your data includes all photos, videos, music, art, documents, financial and business data, in other words everything that you care about stored on your computer.

This version of ransomeware, WannaCry, was launched Friday May 12, 2017 and has infected more than 200,000 computers in 150 countries.  It asks for a payment of $300 or more for you to get back the data it has stolen. (1)

Screen capture of WannaCrypt

Screen capture of WannaCrypt

Example of WannaCry in the wild - at a train station in East Germany.

Example of WannaCry in the wild – at a train station in East Germany.

This virus attacks Microsoft Windows Computers.  Microsoft says that if you have the Windows Updates of March 2017 or later installed and Microsoft Antivirus you are probably not at risk. (2)  Most of the computers affected so far are on business LANs and have not been updated recently.

To protect yourself from this and other viruses, make sure your Windows and antivirus are up to date and automatically updating.

The Windows Update that you need

Check that you have the minimum required Windows security update by looking for it in Windows Update – Type Windows Update in your search box, Click on Windows Update, Click on Review your update history and look for an entry that reads something like

  • March, 2017 Security Monthly Quality Rollup for Windows …
  • 2017-05 Security Monthly Quality Rollup for Windows …

MS_windows_update_showing_March,_2017_Security_Monthly_Quality_Rollup window_update_2017-05_Security_Monthly_Quality_Rollup_for_Windows

Note the inconsistent naming.  Rollups are supposed to include previous months patches.  Also this particular SMS bug was patched singly by Security Update for Microsoft Windows SMB Server (4013389) described in Microsoft Security Bulletin MS17-010 – Critical March 14, 2017.

Suggestions to avoid viruses

Do not open attachments, links or documents in emails that you do not completely trust.

Keep your computer up to date – enable updates for the operating system and all software.

Use an antivirus and enable updates for it.

Back up your important data.


Ransomware has been around for a couple of years and will never go away, only get worse.

Microsoft has even offered a patch for this problem for the long shunned Windows XP.  Microsoft may be allowing some patching for “not genuine” copies of Windows.

This ransomware leverages code written/purchased/hoarded by the NSA which was stolen and released to Wikileaks.  This is a good example of why no government or organization should hoard bugs for their personal gain.  The responsible thing to do with bugs is to disclose them to the vendor so that they can be fixed to keep us all more secure.

Linux (and Unix variants OS X, iOS and Android) were not affected.  Just saying.

This ransomware leverages a bug in SMB to spread through a network.  A good router will block SMB traffic from the Internet to your LAN.  If a computer on the LAN gets infected it can infect every computer on the LAN.  The first computer usually gets infected by the user opening a phishing email and installing the virus on their computer from where it spreads.

Businesses will often delay updates to computers on their networks because they are afraid that the update will adversely interact with their critical business software.  Thousands of businesses just got bit in the ass because of this.

Backups are the only way to protect your data from any calamity.  The more important the data, the more copies you need, stored in more places.




A technical deep dive –

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False security alerts and 800 phone number scams active now

Recently I have seen two computers taken over by false security alerts and 800 phone number scams.  Fortunately these two incidents were not destructive but they did require removing the scam settings to resume normal Internet web browsing.   Unfortunately some victims are falling for the scam, believing that their computer is infected with a bad virus and calling the 800 number on the screen to purchase the fix.

Example of a scam from the Internet.

Example of a scam from the Internet.

How these scams work

Suddenly the victim sees a big bold message on the screen saying that your computer is infected with viruses and that you must call the 800 phone number to fix it.

The big bold message is persistent – you can’t close the window or the pop-ups.  Rebooting the computer does not get rid of the message.

It blocks your Internet web browsing.

It tries to be convincing by stating a lot of technical jargon and using famous company names.

This is called “scareware” because it tries to scare you into buying bogus support or software.  It is criminal extortion.

Technically these scams work by setting your web browser’s home page their screen of false security warnings then make it difficult to close the windows or navigate away.

These threats are not destructive but remember there are plenty of destructive threats out there such as cryptoware and identity theft.


I have seen two versions of the scareware 800 phone number scam.  The first is a persistent web home page.  The second is a registry entry that will autorun to display a web page after installing Chromium.  Both are not viruses or destructive.  Both can be removed.

Scareware #1

virus warning

Appearance:  A persistent web page saying that the computer is infected and to call the 800 phone number.  You can’t close the web page and restarting the browser returns the web page.  Rebooting does not help.

Audio.  There may be an audio track with warnings.

Screen:  Contains scare words including Trojan, worm, Infection, hijack, virus, threats.”

What the scammers want you to do:  The 800 number routes to India where a “tech” will remote into your PC using logmein and convince the user that they have viruses in their PC and network.  They will offer to fix it for a 1 year subscription $199, or a lifetime subscription for $500, payable by credit card.

How it works:  The scam sets your browser home page to their scare web page or a local copy and makes navigating away difficult.

Repair:  What you need to do is reset your home page.  A little technical, here is the outline for Windows.  Start process manager <ctrl><shift><esc>, application tab, find your browser, right click on it, left click End Process, restart browser, when it asks restore say no.  Done!


Scareware #2

Appearance:  Upon booting the computer a Chromium browser web page takes up the screen saying that the computer is infected and to call the 800 number.  You can’t close the web page and restarting the browser returns the web page.  Rebooting does not help.  The scare page may run popup windows that will not close.  Note that this is the Chromium browser not the Google Chrome web browser.  Malware bytes will find malware and remove it but the scam returns next boot.

Screen:  Various threats, explanations, including “Hyper-V”

The Hyper-V scam popup window.

The Hyper-V scam popup window.

How it works:  The scam has installed Chromium browser and added an autorun entry to the registry to autorun chromium with their web page (local file) as the home page.

Repair:  What you need to do is remove the registry autorun entry and delete the Chromium directory.  A little technical, here is the outline for Windows.  Run MalwareBytes and make note of the chromium autorun entry and directory.  Manually delete the chromium autorun entry (run regedit, back up your registry, find and delete the entry) and delete the directory that contains the bogus Chromium installation.

Nerds and Geeks can help

If you are not sure about the repair steps, consult with your local nerd or geek.


These steps will remove this fake scareware scam but there is always the threat that other malware may have been installed along with it or your computer has vulnerabilities.  Update all software.   Run anti-virus scans and software or reinstall Windows.

Your antivirus is a good first line of defense.

I recommend MalwareBytes as an on demand anti-malware scanner or as a realtime scanner with a subscription.

Time to re-educate yourself on safe Internet –

  • Email: Do not open attachments or click links in email that you are not certain are OK
  • Software: Do not accept software, downloads, or links that are offered
  • Be smart: Do not give out personal information
  • Backup: Make copies of your important data
  • No: If you are not sure, don’t do it


Cryptovirus, Encrypting virus.  This is an especially bad virus; it will encrypt your data and ask for money to unencrypt it.  This is extortion.  If you have backups you can recover.  If you don’t have backups and the bad guys wrote a good virus likely your only way to get the data back is to pay the ransom.  There are some loopholes – there may be file backups with shadow copies not deleted, possibly the crypto virus will have been cracked and keys available or you may have some backups in the cloud (Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, Dropbox) or on another device.


Today show host gets caught by the scam, Jeff Rossen explains:

YouTube video of Jason Smart removing this scam:

YouTube video of Dylan interacting with the scammers:

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Using Windows Part 1

Windows 7, 8 and 10 logos

Windows 7, 8 and 10 logos

There are a lot of user guides out there.  Here is one more.  This guide is based on my experience using Windows and teaching others to use Windows.  It  has information for both beginners and experienced users.


Part 1 covers the following skills

  • Mouse
  • Navigating Windows
  • Copy and paste


The mouse cursor shows where the mouse location is on the screen.  The cursor will change depending on its location and function.  Some examples

  • Pointer
  • Insert text location
  • Click link
  • Resize window


The mouse has a left button, right button and center scroll wheel.

The left button can be clicked, double clicked or clicked and held down.

One left click can be used to select an object or menu option or open a web page (follow a link).

A rapid double click on an icon will start the application.  If you are too slow with your double click or move the mouse during the double click you won’t get the expected result.

Holding the left mouse button down while moving the mouse is called dragging.   Dragging is useful for highlighting text, resizing windows and moving objects.  The drag operation  consists of first pointing to the object, pressing down and holding down the left mouse button, moving the mouse to the  end or destination then releasing the left mouse button.

Highlighting text and dragging are important useful skills and further discussed below.

The right mouse button is used to right click on an object to bring up a convenient menu of things that can be done to the object such as copy, delete or view the properties.

The center scroll wheel is convenient for scrolling up and down long web pages and documents.


Highlighting text is also called selecting text.  The highlighted text will be shown with a different background indicating that it is selected and looks like it was highlighted with a text highlighter pen.

Yes it can be confusing – click or double click.  Icons are little pictures that represent an application and are double clicked.  Links are text,  typically a different color and underlined, that are single clicked to take you to a web page or open an application.

Navigating Windows

The computer screen

The main features of the Windows computer screen are the desktop and a taskbar running across the bottom of the screen.   Clicking the Start Button will bring up the applications menu.


The desktop is where windows will open when you run applications (programs) such as the calculator.   Each open window will have a corresponding button on the taskbar.


Using application windows on the desktop

Note that “Windows” capitalized refers to Microsoft Windows Operating System whereas “windows” is a viewing area on the computer display screen.

Windows is a multitasking operating system so open as many windows as you need.  You will learn to move between windows and resize them.

Only one window at a time will have focus.  Focus means where mouse clicks and commands will go.  The window with focus will be on top of all the windows, “in the foreground.”

Parts of a window

Each window has edges, corners and a title bar that runs across the top of the window.

Moving and resizing windows

To move the window, point to the title bar then left click down and hold the button down while moving the mouse to move the window.  This is dragging.

To resize the window, point to an edge or corner, the cursor will change to a double head arrow, then  left click down and hold the button down while moving the  mouse to resize the window.

The 3 buttons in the upper right of the window will minimize, maximize or close the window.  The minimized window will shrink to a button on the taskbar and the application will still be running.  The maximize button toggles the window between its current size and previous size.


Moving between windows

  • Click the corresponding button on the taskbar
  • Click on any portion of the window that is visible
  • Hold the Alt key down, press tab until you see the window that you want to have focus, release keys
  • Windows 10 – click the Task View icon on the taskbar (it looks like a box with ears)

Moving within the viewport

The viewing area of a window is called the viewport and shows the visible area of the web page or document that fits in the viewport.


The scroll bars allow you to move up/down and left/right on a page when it does not all fit in the viewport.   Scroll bars have several ways to move the viewport  – click the arrows at the ends to move incrementally, click in a space on the scroll bar to move a page in that direction, left click and hold down the button on the scroll bar (called a “thumbtrack”) and drag to any location on the page.  The thumbtrack size indicates how big the page is and the current location on the page (ie a small thumbtrack towards the bottom indicates the page is lengthy and the current position is towards the end).


A mouse with a scroll wheel makes it easier to scroll up and down by rolling the wheel forward and backward.  Clicking the scroll wheel puts the mouse into an autoscroll mode, the speed and direction controlled by the position of the mouse.

Keyboard keys Page Up, Page Down will move the page up and down by one page respectively.  The Home key will take you to the top of the page, the End key will take you to the bottom of the page although some windows require Control-Home and Control-End.


The mouse pointer must be in the viewport for the scroll or page up/down functions to work.

The taskbar button icons for open windows can be configured to combine when taskbar is full, always combine or never combine according to user preference.

Laptop trackpads typically can be set up to scroll by finger movement on the right and bottom edges of the trackpad or by using 2 fingers to scroll up and down.

Close a window by pressing Alt-F4 (when it has focus).

Close a window by right clicking on its taskbar button and clicking Close window.

When the window title bar is not visible, move the window with the following keystroke sequence – Alt-Space bar, M, use arrow keys to move window.

Two features of the taskbar – on the left end is the start button to bring up the menus of applications installed on the computer and on the right end is the time.

Copy and paste

Copy and paste is a valuable technique for copying text from one place to another.  Why retype text when you can copy and paste it?  Here are some examples

  • Copy a web address and paste it into your web browser address bar
  • Copy information (like text) from one window to another
  • Copy a picture and paste it into a document

The copy and paste operation is 3 steps – highlighting, copy and paste.

Highlighting (selecting)

Before you can copy text, you must first highlight what you want to copy.

How to highlight what you want to copy with the mouse – point the mouse cursor where you want to start highlighting, hold down the left mouse button, move the mouse to where you want to end highlighting, release the left mouse button to complete the highlighting.  The highlighted text will be shown with a different background indicating that it is selected and looks like it was highlighted with a text highlighter pen.


Copy and paste with the keyboard

After highlighting your selection, copy it by holding down the Control key and tapping the C key.  This keystroke procedure is abbreviated in documentation as Control-C or <Ctrl><C>.

To paste your selection, click the mouse cursor where you want the text to be pasted then hold down the Control key and tap the V key.  The text will paste there.  Control-V.

And that is the basic copy and paste operation.  Highlighting, Control-C and Control-V.  Practice in a test document.


Two additional useful operations are cut and paste, and undo

Just as you can copy and paste you can cut and paste.  Cut means the original text will be removed by the cut operation.  The keystrokes to cut are Control-X.

Undo is useful to restore the previous copy-paste or cut-paste operation back to the way the text was before the operation.

More ways to highlight (also known as select) text

  • Double clicking on a word will highlight the word.
  • Triple clicking on a sentence will select the sentence (or sometimes paragraph).
  • Control-A will select all.
  • Highlighting text with the keyboard -place the cursor where to start highlighting, hold Shift key down, use arrow keys to  highlight (select) text.

To remove highlighting simply click anywhere.

More ways to copy and paste

Windows gives us two more ways to access the copy, cut, paste and undo functions – via the Menu Bar and by right clicking the mouse on the selection to pop up a menu of options.



When the Menu Bar is enabled, the Edit drop-down menu lists the operations to click on and conveniently shows the keyboard shortcuts.

Newer versions of Microsoft Office and WordPad have a ribbon instead of a menu bar.


The right click menu available in word processing and browser fields will show the operations available.  The paste operation is not available where text cannot be pasted.

  • The Undo operation will also restore deleted text.


The  text that is cut or copied is stored in a memory location called the clipboard or edit buffer.

The clipboard holds one item.  The clipboard can be pasted from multiple times.  The next copy command replaces the old item with the new item in the clipboard.  When the computer is turned off, the clipboard is cleared.

The copy, cut, paste and undo operations work with pictures and files also.

The file manager (also called the computer folder) has a few more selection functions including click and drag to select a group of files, Control-click to select/unselect files, and select a range by clicking the first item of the range then Shift click the last item of the range.

A similar operation will move text – highlighting, click on the text, drag and drop.

These commands also work in Linux and Mac OS X.  For Mac OS X substitute the Command key (it looks like a freeway interchange) for the Control key.

Similar commands work in Android and Apple iOS.  Press and hold the text that you want to select, a menu will appear with options – SELECT ALL, CUT, COPY.  Tap an option.  Press and hold where  you’d like to paste to and a menu will appear with options – PASTE and tap that to paste there.

action keyboard menu bar right click
copy Control-C Edit, Copy Copy
paste Control-V Edit, Paste Paste
cut Control-X Edit, Cut Cut
undo Control-Z
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