Category: Microsoft

Switching DNS – Windows

I use the mighty Pi-Hole to streamline my browsing experience.  Sometimes, though, the ole Hole can get in my way, blocking something I need to see.  If it’s a one time deal, and not something I want to whitelist (which Pi-Hole has thankfully made easy to do via the web interface as of the latest edition), I wanted an easy way to temporarily switch DNS servers.

Enter QuickSetDNS, a groovy little exe that can do just that. Download QuickSetDNS and unpack it into the destination of your choosing.  There’s no installer – it’s a simple standalone exe.  Fire it up, right click in the whitespace and create a new DNS server entry. I’ve got one for my Hole, and one that points to Google’s public DNS servers.

After creating your entries, right click on one and choose Copy SetDNS Command Line. Then right click on your desktop and create a new shortcut.  Paste the SetDNS command line in for the location of the shortcut and click Next.  Name it something informative, and save it.  Do the same with your other DNS entries in QuickSetDNS.

There.  Now you have shortcuts you can double click to change your local DNS settings.

Windows 10 – disable automatic updates

One of the more annoying things about Windows 10 (and there are many) is the inflexibility with updates.  Luckily, you can edit policy to your advantage here.

  • Open the policy editor by clicking the windows button and then typing in gpedit.msc (enter)
  • Navigate to Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Windows Updates
  • Double click Configure Automatic Updates to edit it.
  • Set it to Enable and choose 2 – Notify for download and notify for install

There you have it.  You haven’t prevented updates altogether, but at least you have some control over if/when they download and install.

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Windows – Migrating Printers

At my POE we use virtual printers for all manner of file production.  It’s annoying.  What’s more annoying is when it’s time to upgrade a server using virtual printers.  Thankfully there’s a way to sorta kinda help the process, by sorta kinda easing the migration process.  The following screenshots are from Windows 2012 R2.  If you’re using a different Windows OS level your mileage may vary.  It’s my understanding that the titles of some of this differs by OS.

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Windows 7 with 2 NICs

Despite supposedly having no data caps, the other day my provider interrupted my surfing with a message stating that I’d downloaded an “excessive amount” and should contact them to upgrade my plan.  Interestingly, their website also doesn’t show any data caps or, for that matter, any plans for me to upgrade to.

I’m not real worried about it, but at the same time since I work full time remote I really need my intertoobs to work all the time.  Then I remembered that the vacation rental we manage next door to me has internet that rarely gets used.  Time to slap a wireless NIC on the server and push internet traffic through that router!

Doing so was easy.  I had a halfway decent USB wireless laying around.  I slapped it in, joined the next door wireless network, and then ran a route print:

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The highlighted bit is the new NIC.  Above it is the wired NIC connecting the server to my local network.  You want the Metric on the NIC you want internet traffic flowing through to be the lowest.  Luckily mine defaulted to that.  If yours doesn’t do that you can manually set the Metric by navigating to the Advanced properties of the Network Adapters:

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After that I simply removed the Gateway address from the properties of my wired LAN access NIC and voila – all my intertoobs were coming from next door while my LAN still had full access to my server.  In order to double check I logged into my router and disabled internet traffic for the server IP address.

I also installed a groovy little tool called Network Manager so I can watch the traffic:

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Windows Sticky Notes

I admit it – I use Windows Sticky Notes.  I hate how unconfigurable it feels though.  The font is terrible, for instance.  Lucky you can change it with a reghack.


REGEDIT4

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Fonts]
"Segoe Print (TrueType)"="consola.ttf"
"Segoe Print Bold (TrueType)"="consolab.ttf"

What’s happening here is, because the notes demand to use Segoe Print as the font, you’re changing what font Segoe Print actually is.  Replace the .ttfs with fonts of your choice.

There are also a myriad of shortcuts for modifying existing note text:

Ctrl+B – Bold text
Ctrl+I – Italic text
Ctrl+T – Strikethrough
Ctrl+U – Underlined text
Ctrl+Shift+L – Bulleted (press once) or Numbered (press twice) list
Ctrl+Shift+> – Increased text size
Ctrl+Shift+< – Decreased text size
Ctrl+A – Select all
Ctrl+Shift+A – Toggles all caps
Ctrl+L – Left aligns text
Ctrl+R – Right aligns text
Ctrl+E – Centers text
Ctrl+Shift+L – Small Alpha list (3rd), Capital Alpha list (4th), small roman (5th), Capital roman (6th)
Ctrl+1 – Single-space lines
Ctrl+2 – Double-space lines
Ctrl+5 – Set 1.5-line spacing
Ctrl+= – Subscript
Ctrl+Shift++ – Superscript

TrueCrypt – No longer safe?

Bad news.  A serious flaw in TrueCrypt has been found that potentially allows full system compromise.  The worse news?  There’s no truly trustworthy TC successor for Windows out there in the wilds so far.  Microsoft and Symantec both offer encryption solutions, but surely they’re rife with back doors.  VeraCrypt is a fork of TC, but so far there’s nothing to generate any confidence that it too isn’t compromised.

The good news, I suppose, is that so far it appears that TrueCrypt on Linux doesn’t have this newly found flaw.  Also, it seems this flaw requires the machine to be on and in Windows.  In other words, if your fully disk encrypted machine is powered down, or your drives are removed or are external and the machine isn’t with them, your data remains safe.  Cold comfort, really.

More info on Microsoft’s push to track Windows 7 and 8 users

Surely you’ve already read that Windows 10 includes some pretty disappointing user tracking baked into it.  Microsoft is also pushing this tracking down to its Windows 7 and 8 operating systems.

Aside:  I get the Win 10 thing.  It’s free.  Do what you want with your free operating system.  But quietly inserting anti-privacy shit into operating systems that people have already paid for?  Ludicrous.  Offensive.  Ridiculous.  It’s prompted me to finally get off my ass and move all the machines I can off of Windows and onto Linux, for good.

Anyway, yeah, MS is pushing this stuff into your operating system without really giving you any indication.  The current list of updates that should trouble you are as follows:

You can remove these updates via command line thusly:


wusa /uninstall /KB:2952664 /norestart /quiet
wusa /uninstall /KB:2990214 /norestart /quiet
wusa /uninstall /KB:3021917 /norestart /quiet
wusa /uninstall /KB:3022345 /norestart /quiet
wusa /uninstall /KB:3035583 /norestart /quiet
wusa /uninstall /KB:3044374 /norestart /quiet
wusa /uninstall /KB:3068708 /norestart /quiet
wusa /uninstall /KB:3075249 /norestart /quiet
wusa /uninstall /KB:3080149 /norestart /quiet

In fact, you can save the above to a .bat file and run it.  This takes them off, but unfortunately doesn’t prevent them from presenting themselves for install in the future.  To fix that you’ll have to head to Windows Update, let it scan what you’re missing, and then go through that list hunting for each of these.  When you come across one, right click it and choose to hide it.

This is the list for now… I sincerely doubt this is where it will end, however.  Have you tried Linux lately?

Microsoft slips it to you on Windows 7 and 8

Microsoft is slipping into Windows 7 and 8 the same data mining and privacy violating tracking that has made news for being a part of Windows 10.  I’m in the midst of absorbing it all, but for now further info, including updates to block, can be found here.

Also, instructions on how to opt-out of their CEIP (Customer Experience Improvement Program) which if you’ve installed Office you’ve surely inadvertently joined, can be found here.

This is getting to be a bit much.