Category: Software

AVG selling your browser history?

According to this reddit thread, yes.  Time to move on if you’re using it.  See below from their current privacy policy.  Emphasis mine.

We collect non-personal data to make money from our free offerings so we can keep them free, including: Advertising ID associated with your devices Browsing and search history, including meta data; Internet service provider or mobile network you use to connect to our products; and Information regarding other applications you may have on your device and how they are used. Sometimes browsing history or search history contains terms that might identify you. If we become aware that part of your browsing history might identify you, we will treat that portion of your history as personal data, and will anonymize this information. We may also aggregate and/or anonymize personal data we collect about you. For instance, although we would consider your precise location to be personal data if stored separately, if we combined the locations of our users into a data set that could only tell us how many users were located in a particular country, we would not consider this aggregated information to be personally identifiable.

That’s a huge italicized if.  Basically a get out of jail free card.  IF we become aware that we’re collecting identifying data.  If we don’t, well, sorry.  We weren’t aware.

Windows 8.1 Clean install : We couldn’t find any drives. To get a storage driver, click Load Driver.

“We couldn’t find any drives. To get a storage driver, click Load Driver.”  That’s the message I got trying to install Windows 8.1 on a slightly used drive for my heavily used desktop.  Simply cleaning it in Diskpart solved the problem.

EDIT: LET ME CLARIFY.  Doing the following is preparing your drive for a CLEAN OS INSTALL.  This means you’re losing any data currently on the drive (technically you’re not erasing the drive, you’re just marking all the data as “gone” or “overwriteable,” so if you don’t continue and install an OS you can most likely recover it, but let’s just not go there).  Don’t do this to a drive that has data you want to keep!

  • Open an elevated CMD window
  • Diskpart
  • List disk – find the disk you want to clean
  • Select disk XX – where XX is that disk number
  • Clean

that’s it.

Avaya One-X Error Saving Preferences.xml

I use Avaya One-X for work.  I got the above error this morning.  I couldn’t find a resolution via Googling, and Avaya’s support is notoriously sucky.  BUT, I did find out what the purpose of Preferences.xml is.  It keeps settings like window positions.  Bearing that in mind, I figured before reinstalling I’d try blowing it away (renaming it, actually) to see if it would recreate.  It did, and the app came up fine.

Preferences.xml is located in

%APPDATA%\Avaya\one-X Agent\2.5\Profiles\[Profile Name]

on Win7/8.

Stuff I Like/Use

Not so random list of stuff I like/use:

Tech

  • SABnzbd – Auto newsreader.  Feed it nzb files and, if you’ve set it up correctly, it’ll auto download, verify, unpack and place.  I feed it with:
    • Sickbeard – Searches and manages television shows.  Finds what you tell it to, ships the info to SAB, and voila – you’ve got stuff to waste your life watching.  Some people are switching to NZBDrone, but so far I still prefer Sickie.
    • CouchPotato – Is to movies what Sickbeard is to television.
  • Pi-Hole – Turn your Raspberry Pi into a network wide ad blocker via DNS.
  • Deluge – A free bitTorrent client with the option for a nifty web interface.
  • TTRSS – When Google unceremoniously pulled the plug on its newsreader lots of us nerds were pissed.  I fiddled with all the online alternatives at the time, but eventually TTRSS became my drug of choice.  I host it, I admin it, I’m in control of it.  I appreciate that.  It’s quick, it’s efficient, it seems to keep its database tight and clean, and it’s well supported.  Be forewarned: if you hit its support forums without first doing your homework you will be beat down by neckbeards who have no other means by which to feel any superiority over anyone.  Such is the bane of a project like TTRSS.

More to come.

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Rebuilding Workstation Tips

New hard drives have arrived for my workstation and laptop.  They’re desperately overdue for a rebuild.  I love rebuilding and I hate it.  I love it because newly built machines run so smoothly, so cleanly, and have that new-machine smell.  It’s like virtual spring-cleaning.

I hate rebuilding because there’s so much stuff on my machines.  I’ve done a better job over the years of compartmentalizing (and even backing up) my data, but there’s still a lot of it – more than I’d like.  And the applications.  I use so many applications!  Every rebuild I think “I don’t need 3/4 of these apps.  I’m not putting them back on.”  But eventually, inevitably, as I work on this and that my installed app list grows, and I find myself installing a significant amount of the apps I insisted I wouldn’t.  Such is the curse of the breadth of things I work on, I suppose.  Just this morning a coworker from a completely different department commented that I’m the bitch for my department.  I work on whatever needs working on.  My boss generously calls me his “tool belt.”  Bitch is, honestly, more accurate.

Anyway, here are a few things that make my rebuild process less arduous.

  • I always build fresh onto new drives, holding onto the old ones.  Drives are cheap.  There’s nothing worse than blowing your drive away, rebuilding, and suddenly remembering something of Significant Importance™ that you forgot to back up.  Don’t sweat that.  Take the time to decrypt your current drives (you do encrypt them, don’t you) and set them aside. Build on a new drive, and keep your old ones around for a few weeks just to be sure.  Then you can wipe them and use them as scratch drives or external storage or replacement drives for that friend whose drive craps out or whatever.
  • Make a list of your installed applications.  It’s easy:
  1. Open a command prompt with elevated rights (Start > Run > type in CMD.  When the CMD icon appears, right click and Run as Administrator).
  2. Type in WMIC.
  3. Type in /output:c:\path\to\installed_list.txt product get name,version where path\to is, well, the path to wherever you want to write your installed_list.txt.
  4. Wait for it to finish. Enjoy list of apps.

I’ll add more to my list as my latest rebuilds commence.

Remote Software Scanner

I was writing a script that would scan remote Windows systems and return their installed software, complete with version information (a requirement), and quickly discovered that the process was more arduous than I had originally anticipated.  How to pull it?  WMI?  Use PowerShell?  Glean the information from the registry?  I fiddled with each and, given that I was working with a broad array of OS levels and a mix of 32 and 64 bit, each option had its annoying pitfalls.

Sometimes it’s better to let someone else do the work.  This is one of those times.

I found the EMCO Network Software Scanner, which does exactly what I need and much more, and amazingly enough is also free!

So much props to EMCO.  I’ll be keeping their commercial products in mind down the road.

Novosoft Handy Backup

I don’t usually endorse software.  I’m not an endorser.  However, I’ve been using Novosoft’s Handy Backup for awhile now.  I’m quite pleased with it, and think it’s worth every penny.  I use it to pull down backups of remote websites, sync local data, and make archives of apps whose settings I would hate to lose in the event of a crash.  It’s all automated.  It does the job.