Monthly Archives: April 2009

Connection Problems with Windows Media Center

After a few weeks of not using it, I decided to play some music from my Xbox 360 using the Media Extender feature. I keep my music on my laptop and run it from the Media Center of Vista Home Premium to my 360 and out the 6 speaker system. However, after I fired up the Media Center in the 360, connected to the laptop, selected music and clicked on music library, nothing happened. After a while, I got an error message saying that the connection was lost. Despite trying several more times, I got the same result.

So naturally I began to troubleshoot this. I shut down and restarted both devices but only achieved the same result. I deleted the setup connection from the 360, re-set up, again, same result. Even turning off the firewall in my laptop gave me no luck. Okay.  It was time to stop guessing and start looking.

Checking over the computer’s system log, I found a somewhat obscure error. Even with clicking on the link to check for help online, I find no particularly helpful data. By Googling the error, I stumbled upon a developer application that has been used to solve somewhat similar problems.  Aha!  Naturally I downloaded and installed this tool, and started running it to repair my file and registry permissions.

At the end of my adventure I restarted my computer and the 360¦and¦VOILA! I can access the music library in my laptop from the 360 extender again. Playing music as I write this, I’m happy I was once again able to solve yet another computer-related issue.

Even something perplexing as this can be handled when one knows where to look “ or knows who to have look for them.  So if you have ever run into something similar, drop me a line and we’ll tackle it together.

Menu Bar Shortcut Glitch in Outlook 2007

For those who like to use keyboard shortcuts in general, you might find an oddity in Outlook 2007. When pressing Alt+e, instead of dropping down the edit menu, it only highlights “Edit”. If you have installed Business Contact Manager as well, keep reading.

One of the shortcuts in the Business Contact Manager toolbar is “E-mail Auto-link”, and it uses the same keyboard shortcut than “Edit” in the Menu bar. So Alt+E can be used for either. That is the reason why the keyboard shortcut doesn’t pull down the menu. If you press Alt-E several times, it will switch between highlighting “Edit” in the menu bar and highlighting “E-mail Auto-link” in the BCM toolbar.

So that’s the reason. What is the handling? Stop using Outlook 🙂 . The next simplest is: uninstall BCM. Right next to it is just disable the add-in through the tools menu. If you do use BCM and getting rid of it is not an option, you can change what letter activates the “Edit” menu. Notice that as of this writing I have not found a way to hide the toolbar or change what letter activates the “E-mail Auto-link” button in the BCM toolbar – that seems to me like the real glitch!

Feel free to get in touch if you need instructions or help on how to change the shortut in the “Edit” menu or anything related to this.

Copying Contacts to Business Contacts in Outlook 2007 with BCM

While talking to a friend I got his contact information in my smartphone running Windows Mobile 6.1, including a picture I took of him on the spot. When I got to my computer, I proceeded to synchronize to my Outlook 2007 with Business Contact Manager. Since it was business related, after I got it in my contacts, I proceeded to do the usual copying to “business contacts”. Right click, drag to business contacts… got an error message “cannot copy the items. The folders you are trying to change do not support this operation”.

That’s new. I have done the same operation before without any error message so what was different this time? googled the error, found one match, and the issue was not resolved in that reference. Ok. So I’m on my own. So what was different? I realized that I seldom included a picture in my phone contact before I synced, so I tried that. Deleted the picture in the Outlook contact in my computer, tried to then copy to business contacts… success! then I imported the picture from my phone and added it to the contact.

Then I deleted the business contact I had just copied when it had no picture, tried to copy the contact with the picture now included manually and… success! it is safe to conclude there was a problem with importing a contact with a picture attached to it and try to copy it to business contacts that way. I repeated the process twice to test it. Same result.

Hope this helps anyone with a similar problem. If you have any questions or need help with this issue, contact me.

That was a fun rootkit

 A young friend of mine asked me recently for help with his computer as it was behaving strangely, with Google search results coming out weird, unable to access certain websites, antivirus wouldn’t update, and so on. I immediately assumed the system was compromised, and guessed it was a rootkit.

Set out to uncover it, I used one of Mark Russinovich’s (that sellout that works for Microsoft now – just kidding! hope you can set Windows 7 right from the beginning!) wonderful tools, and in a few minutes the evidence of the existence of a rootkit popped up in plain view. Having identified the enemy, now it was just a matter of coosing the right tool to destroy it. Had to use two of them actually – this rootkit was very resilient, trying to get around its removal with various clever techniques.

But in the end I was able to remove it and voila! antivirus was able to update itself, no more denied website access, Google searches coming out the way they should.

Since the current day trend defining characteristic of malware is stealthness, rootkits are becoming more and more popular. More computers are infected than their unsuspecting users think.

is your computer infected? contact me and find out.

Conficker/downadup/kido worm – detection and removal tools

Being as it is that one of this worm’s characteristics is to block access to security websites, this post is to help circumvent this problem. If your computer is infected or you suspect is infected, here’s a number of free detection and removal tools that deal with this infection. Click on the appropriate link to download to your computer. Double click on the file and follow the instructions:

BitDefender Single PC Removal Tool: Removes Downadup from a single PC

McAfee Detection Tool: It can detect if any of your computers is infected in a network

Symantec Removal Tool: Symantec’s W32.Downadup/conficker removal tool

Sophos’ Network Removal Tool: Sophos’ Conficker clean-up tool to remove Conficker from an infected network

Sophos’ Standalone Removal Tool: Sophos’ Conficker clean-up tool to remove Conficker from one or more single computers

Contact me if you need help using any of these utilities.

Conficker virus – Are you infected?

How to interpret:

If you see this above: It probably means this:
All images displayed = Normal/Not Infected by Conficker (or using proxy)
Security/AV logos not displayed = Possibly Infected by Conficker (C variant or greater)
Some security/AV logos not displayed = Possibly Infected by Conficker A/B variant
No images displayed = Image loading turned off in browser?
Any other combination = Poor Internet connection?


Conficker (aka Downadup, Kido) is known to block access to over 100 anti-virus and security websites.

If you are blocked from loading the remote images in the first row of the top table above (AV/security sites) but not blocked from loading the remote images in the second row (websites of alternative operating systems) then your Windows PC may be infected by Conficker (or some other malicious software).

If you can see all six images in both rows of the top table, you are either not infected by Conficker, or you may be using a proxy server, in which case you will not be able to use this test to make an accurate determination, since Conficker will be unable to block you from viewing the AV/security sites.

If you are indeed infected, follow this link for some detection/removal tools:

Let me know if you need help with this.