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Wubuntu

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(For Geeks Only)
By Joe Callison
22 January 2024

Wubuntu

Wubuntu is an Ubuntu-based Linux operating system with a user interface designed to mimic Windows 10 using the Cinnamon Desktop or Windows 11 using the KDE Plasma Technology. It provides a very Windows-like experience without the Microsoft requirements for TPM, secure boot, processor, or memory. It even has Windows Edge and the Copilot Assistant. It will run Windows EXE or MSI-installed programs using WINE for translation.

I have installed Wubuntu with the Windows 11 Plasma GUI on an old Dell Inspiron with a 3rd generation Intel i5 processor, 8 GB RAM, and an SSD drive and it performs extremely well. The desktop screen and many of the settings screens very closely resemble Windows 11. The Edge browser runs very well. A trial version of Power Toys is included. You can install Linux applications, Windows applications, and supposedly Android applications though I have not tried any yet. This is the easiest way to be introduced to Linux that I have seen to date.

For more information on Wubuntu, see the video and download link on Wubuntu

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Managing BitLocker

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By Joe Callison
31 October 2023

Managing BitLocker

You may have recently seen articles about BitLocker on Windows 11 slowing SSD performance as much as 45% in some applications. The slowdown is due to using software encryption by the operating system. This may eventually be resolved by Windows 11 patches. There are some processors and SSDs with hardware encryption capability, but these have had vulnerabilities requiring patches.

Many computers preinstalled or newly installed with Windows 11 Pro, Enterprise, or Education will have BitLocker turned on by default. If you use the software encryption feature of Windows, it is imperative to safely store the Recovery Key. Even then, there have been reported cases of the Recovery Key not working. Having an unencrypted backup of your essential data is still recommended.

A couple of good references for using or disabling BitLocker are below:

Windows 11 Pro users beware: Microsoft’s BitLocker encryption could be seriously slowing down your PC | TechRadar

How to configure BitLocker encryption on Windows 11 | Windows Central

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Windows File Recovery

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(For Geeks Only)
By Joe Callison
17 September 2023

Windows File Recovery

Have you ever tried to access data on an SD card or USB drive and the files are unreadable? Searching the internet for file recovery software will turn up dozens of possibilities, many claiming to be free. After trying out several “free” ones it turns out most only find the files for free and you have to pay to recover them, or they only recover a few for free just to demonstrate they can actually recover files so you will buy them. There is an actual free alternative from the Microsoft Store called Windows File Recovery by Microsoft. It is a command line program, so it is not as user-friendly as a program you pay for might be, but it gets the job done and will work on any type of storage device that is recognized on a Windows system. It is limited to the recovery of specific file types, but the list covers most of the user files of interest. An excellent tutorial on using Windows File Recovery can be found at How to Use Microsoft’s “Windows File Recovery” on Windows 10 and Windows 11

I have used Windows File Recovery to successfully recover videos from a friend’s USB flash drive that was otherwise unreadable.

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Create a Second Monitor from Old Devices

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(For Geeks Only)
By Joe Callison
15 March 2023

Create a Second Monitor from Old Devices

I have been trying out a Spacedesk app (free Beta version) from datronicsoft that allows you to use a phone, tablet, computer, or smart TV as a second monitor for your Windows computer using your network wi-fi. The second monitor can be Windows (7 through 11), Android (>4.1, including Amazon devices), or iOS (>9.3). Android devices can also be connected directly by USB cable as a second monitor if you wish. Both Android and iOS devices that support tethering by USB can also be used. Any device running a web browser that supports HTML5 will also work.

A Spacedesk driver must be downloaded from spacedesk.net for the primary Windows computer. Instructions are in the User Manual found by clicking the Documentation tab on the home page. On the device acting as the second monitor, you must download the Spacedesk -Display Monitor app (may be called Spacedesk or Spacedesk Viewer on other than Android) from the appropriate app store for the device.

So far I have tested Spacedesk using an Android phone and an old Android (4.3) tablet and they both worked on wi-fi. I have also tested the tablet by direct USB cable and that also is working. I think this is a great way to make use of old unsupported devices.

A Spacedesk Pro version is in the works that will support more features and provide the capability of building a video wall of monitors.

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Uses for an Old Laptop

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(For Geeks Only)
By Joe Callison
3 November 2022

Uses for an Old Laptop

An old laptop that still works can be turned into a number of useful projects, beyond the obvious ones like turning it into a Linux or Chromebook computer. Continue reading →

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Advanced Configuration & Power Interface (ACPI)

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By Joe Callison
6 August 2022

Advanced Configuration & Power Interface (ACPI)

The Windows operating system ACPI standard can support several states of power for computers, but not all are typically supported by the hardware manufacturer. The possible states are identified as follows:  Continue reading →

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A Trip Down Memory Lane

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(For Geeks Only)
By Joe Callison
18 November 2021

Sometimes we would like to have an old program or need an older version of a program to access files that we have or maybe just for nostalgic reasons. There are several websites that are repositories for old software that can be downloaded from them. There are also user groups that you can become a member of and have access to copies of old software contributed by members. Some of the software for installation of a program or operating system may or may not require you to have an existing software license to be able to run it. The following links provide information on some of the available sites for old software:  Continue reading →

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GitHub

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(For Geeks Only)
By Joe Callison
24 August 2021

The Microsoft community of developers and customer/users post their on-going creations on GitHub for access by anyone, whether you are a contributor to the development or just want to try out what they are working on. Eventually some of the creations make it into the official Windows distribution as new features. Three features that caught my interest and a sample user contribution are in the following.   Continue reading →

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Building Your Own Computer

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(For Geeks Only)
By Joe Callison
21 April 2021

Many of us like the idea of putting together our own computer. Not only is their satisfaction in building something yourself, but you can choose to put more or less money in the parts that you choose for your build depending on their importance to you. Even kids have been able to assemble their own desktop computers from parts these days. Continue reading →

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Fixing Windows Password Problem

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(For Geeks Only)
By Joe Callison
23 January 2021

I ran across a pretty useful trick for unlocking a Windows computer with a forgotten password for the only local account with administrator access, assuming file encryption had not been enabled. For a locked Microsoft account, see the instructions in https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/account-billing/reset-a-forgotten-microsoft-account-password-eff4f067-5042-c1a3-fe72-b04d60556c37).   Continue reading →

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Troubleshooting with Windows Safe Mode or Clean Boot

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By Joe Callison
23 December 2020

When looking for solutions to problems using Windows, you will sometimes read advice to run in “safe mode” or run after a “clean boot”. They both do similar things but there are some differences that can make one more appropriate than the other for specific situations.   Continue reading →

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Using Command Prompt: Network Commands in Batch Files

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By Joe Callison
10 October 2020

Probably the most common use for the command prompt is to run ipconfig to view the network properties. It only takes a few steps- opening the command prompt app (at least two steps) and typing ipconfig and then enter (two more steps). A batch file can be created to reduce these tasks to just opening the batch file which then runs the tasks for you. A batch file is created using a plain text editor such as the Windows Notepad app.   Continue reading →

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How to Create a Personal VPN

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(For Geeks Only)
By Joe Callison
8 September 2020

I had some time during the Labor Day weekend when it was too hot to do anything outside, so I was experimenting with a VPN feature in an ASUS router in the SenCom computer lab. It began as an investigation into the possibility of adding access to a classroom management program running in the computer lab from a remote student’s computer.   Continue reading →

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Using Command Prompt: Network Commands Exercise 2

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(For Geeks Only)
By Joe Callison
5 August 2020

This exercise will use the network commands “ping”, “pathping”, “tracert”, and “netstat” in the Command Prompt. The commands will also work in PowerShell. Running in administrator mode is not required, but can be invoked by a right-click on the app, select More and then Run as administrator. Help for using commands and all of their options can be viewed by typing the command followed by a space and then /? and then press enter.   Continue reading →

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Using Command Prompt: Network Commands Exercise 1

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(For Geeks Only)
By Joe Callison
27 June 2020

This exercise will use the network commands “ipconfig” and “arp” in the Command Prompt. The commands will also work in PowerShell. Running in administrator mode is not required, but can be invoked by a right-click on the app, select More and then Run as administrator. Help for using commands and all of their options can be viewed by typing the command followed by a space and then /? and then press enter.   Continue reading →

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Router Admin Basics

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(For Geeks Only)
By Joe Callison
23 May 2020

What we refer to as a router is typically a multi-function device that performs more tasks than just routing communications among multiple Ethernet connected devices on your home network and to your internet service provider’s network. It is also a gateway to remote networks through the internet, and usually includes a wireless access point and a firewall. It is sometimes incorporated into a cable, fiber or DSL modem rather than being a separate unit.   Continue reading →

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Gee, What’s the Big Deal About 5G?

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(For Geeks Only)
By Joe Callison
6 April 2020

There is much confusion, misunderstanding, and even conspiracy theories about 5G cellular communication. The “G” in 5G does not stand for gigahertz like your router. It does not stand for gigabit speed like your internet service. It is simply a new generation of cellular technology involving new radio hardware and new software techniques that allow more efficient use of the available frequencies and new frequencies that are being added for cellular communications.   Continue reading →

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USB Drive Not Shown in File Explorer

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(For Geeks Only)
By Joe Callison
29 February 2020

I have recently encountered a problem on some Windows 10 computers that I have not seen before. When plugging a USB flash drive or USB external hard drive into a computer, it normally recognizes a new device has been added as noted with a familiar sound, then a device driver may be loaded by Windows if needed, as indicated in a notification, and finally a notification announces that the device is ready to use. When you go to File Explorer and click on This PC, the new storage device is shown with a drive letter assigned.   Continue reading →

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Device Manager

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(For Geeks Only)
By Joe Callison
21 December 2019

Windows Device Manager can be accessed in Windows 10 by right-clicking on the Start icon to get the menu, by typing Device Manager in the Cortana search box, or by using the old Control Panel desktop app. Device Manager is useful for troubleshooting or updating computer device drivers for hardware installed in or attached to the computer. Even if the hardware is removed, the previously detected item will still show with a light colored icon in the list and can be seen by clicking the “Show hidden devices” under View. Abandoned devices that are not likely to be connected again can be removed from the list by right-clicking on the item and choosing “Uninstall device” or if you have both toolbars checked in the Customize settings under View you can select the item and click on the red X in the snap-in toolbar, which only shows when applicable for the item selected. Similarly you can disable a device or update its driver from the right-click menu or the toolbar.   Continue reading →

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Yes, You Can Still Upgrade to Windows 10 for Free

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(For Geeks Only)
By Joe Callison
28 September 2019

As of September 23, 2019 the free upgrade to Windows 10 is still working except for those blocked from the upgrade due to hardware or software incompatibilities. The following link details how to perform the free upgrade and how to determine and possibly fix any software blocks to the upgrade: https://wccftech.com/how-to/upgrade-windows-7-download-windows-10-free/   Continue reading →

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Printer Troubleshooting Tools

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By Joe Callison
14 July 2019

I frequently get requests for help from people having trouble printing. The most common problems I find are the following:

  • The wrong printer is selected in the printer settings. This is sometimes caused by using the default setting to “Let Windows manage my default printer”. I prefer to turn that setting off so I always select the default printer.
  • A failed attempt to print is still in the printer queue and needs to be cancelled.
  • The printer is offline. This is usually fixed by rebooting the router and/or printer for a network connected printer and either disconnecting and reconnecting the USB cable or rebooting the computer for a USB cable connected printer.  

Continue reading →

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Windows Sandbox

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(For Geeks Only)
By Joe Callison
1 June 2019

One of the neat features added to the Windows 10 1903 version is the Windows Sandbox. A sandbox is an environment that allows testing code or apps in isolation from the normal operating system environment. It is useful in trying out new browser extensions or apps, or even browsing unfamiliar and possibly risky websites with minimal risk to the normal operating system environment. The Windows Sandbox does have some limitations and is not available for all Windows 10 systems.   Continue reading →

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CloudReady: A Free Chromebook Experience

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(For Geeks Only)
By Joe Callison
9 April 2019

Are you curious about the capabilities and limitations of a Chromebook as a possible next computer?
Do you have an old desktop or laptop computer with an obsolete operating system that you would like to put a familiar looking modern operating system on for free?
Do you want to try out a Chromebook experience that runs from a USB flash drive on your current Windows 10 or macOS desktop or laptop?   Continue reading →

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When Windows 10 Won’t Boot (for UEFI Systems)

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(For Geeks Only)
By Joe Callison
7 February 2019

There are many possibilities for why Windows 10 fails to boot, so troubleshooting involves a process of elimination. Start with the simplest and least risky possible fixes. If the recovery partition exists, failing to start the third try should automatically bring up the Windows Recovery Environment (WinRE). If not, there are other methods to get it as outlined in this Microsoft link, along with several things to try once there:    
https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/4026030/how-to-use-windows-recovery-environment-winre-to-troubleshoot-common-s
For more detailed help in using DISM, see the following:

https://www.windowscentral.com/how-use-dism-command-line-utility-repair-windows-10-image Continue reading →

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Life of Computer Disk Drives

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(For Geeks Only)
By Joe Callison
21 December 2018

Hard Disk Drives
For most computers, the first parts that fail are those with moving parts that will have mechanical wear and tear. Hard disk drives are usually the first item to go. Hard disk drives, like most electronic components, often have mean time between failure (MTBF) ratings. These are statistical ratings based on accelerated tests to failure that are useful for comparison, but are not related to real world expected life. On average, about one out of twenty consumer hard drives will fail in the first year and a half due mostly to defects in manufacture. That is the price we pay for demanding cheap consumer products.   Continue reading →

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Migration from Old Computer to New Computer

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(For Geeks Only)
By Joe Callison
14 October 2018

Windows Computers
So you have purchased a new Windows computer and now you are wondering how to move your files, and maybe even your settings and programs, from the old computer to the new one. If you only want to move your user files from the old computer to the new computer, you can either copy the folders containing those files from the old computer to a USB flash drive or external hard drive and then copy them from there to the new computer, or you could set up the computers on your home network to share files and copy them over the network connection.  Continue reading →

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Memories

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(For Geeks Only)
By Joe Callison
5 September 2018

There are many types of computer memory being used these days. It used to be simpler when you had RAM memory and a hard drive. Sure the RAM memory evolved over the years from DRAM to DDR, then DDR2, DDR3, and DDR4 and hard drives went from SCSI or PATA to SATA, then SATA2, and SATA3, but now there are several more new types to confuse us.   Continue reading →

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Power Cycling and other Maintenance Tips

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(For Geeks Only)
By Joe Callison
16 August 2018

Most people are aware that many times a computer, modem or router problem can be resolved by just turning off the power to it, waiting a few seconds, and repowering it. This also works for all kinds of other equipment with electronic components, especially logic boards, in them. Sometimes even the power supply for a device has a protective circuit that must be power cycled to reset it. The following are some common experiences I have had that were fixed by power cycling.   Continue reading →

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Migrating Operating System to SSD

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(For Geeks Only)
By Joe Callison
10 June 2018
(Updated 9 September 2021 to replace a broken link)

One of the most cost-effective ways to improve the performance of a computer is to migrate the operating system from a mechanical rotating hard drive to a solid-state drive. Accessing and reading data from a solid-state drive can easily be at least 30% and up to 100% or more faster. With prices as low as $25 for a 120GB SATA type, it is the most bang you can get for your buck and is relatively easy to do. Here is the easiest method for any desktop or laptop computer with a SATA type hard drive:  Continue reading →

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