Fix Disabled or Greyed Out System Restore

I checked my system restore settings (in windows 10 just type in search “System restore”) and tried to to turn on System Protection by going into System Properties and clicking the “Configure” button. But my “Turn on System Protection” option was disabled and I was unable to select it :

This puzzled me for a while until I realized I selected a non-system drive and if you do that Windows won’t let you turn on system restore. So I went back to System Properties, System Protection tab and selected my system drive: 

Then when I clicked “Configure” the option to turn on system protection was available:


Simple, but not immediately obvious and wasted some time. The strange thing is also is that once I enabled it for the C drive it then allowed me to enable for non-system drives. Weird. Hope this helps someone.

Extend the Life of Your Micro USB Cable and Fix Your Loose Android Connection

Here’s a quick fix if you have a loose micro USB connection (for example of the type that is commonly used to charge Android phones).

Have you ever noticed the 2 prongs on a micro usb connection ? These prongs are used to tighten the hold when that end is inserted into the phone. Thee prongs wear out or bend over time so they no longer serve their intended purpose, resulting in a loose and no longer working connection to your phone.

As a quick fix you can raise the surface of the micro-usb end by applying a drop or two of super glue to create a bump or raised layer which will tighten the fit.

Squeeze a a small drop of superglue on the side of the micro usb end where the prongs are:


Be VERY careful not to let the superglue drip into the phone. Your goal is to have the superglue dry into a “bump” on the surface of the micro usb just enough to tighten the fit into the phone as a substitution for the worn prongs. Do the same to the edges of the micro usb but only a small bit.

Let it DRY for at least one hour. You don’t want wet super glue in your phone! When it is thoroughly dry, reinsert. You should now have a supertight connection!

I have done this several times with success. The same method has worked to fix a loose AC adapter plug on another device (raising the surface with a thin layer of superglue to tighten the fit). Note that this won’t last forever but I’ve found it is good for at least several months and almost as long as the prongs lasted.

WARNING: DO THIS AT YOUR OWN RISK. You could damage your phone if the superglue gets in your phone or inside the micro usb. All liability is disclaimed!!

Break Out of the Virtualbox Jail: Run Linux Graphical Apps On Windows Using Putty, Xming, and VirtualBox

I use Virtualbox to run linux. But the terminal Virtualbox uses is awful so I ssh in when I want to use the command line. I recently discovered you can also do this for the graphical desktop so you don’t have to put up with the lousy Virtualbox console which fits all the linux elements in a hard to scale box. You can have your graphical linux desktop run right along Windows just as it was another MS Window Window. Follow thiese steps:

  1. Download and install Xming Server on Windows.
  2. Setup your VirtualBox running say debian and boot up your virtual box ( I won’t go into that here but check this tutorial out).
  3. At your debian command line edit /etc/ssh/sshd_config and make these lines “yes”:
     

  4. If you don’t have a graphical desktop installed, install some sample programs:
     

  5. Now on your Windows desktop fire up Putty. Add a profile to ssh into your debian virtualbox machine (hint: if you haven’t already, you’ll need to get your virtual machine’s ip address and you can’t get that until you make sure your debian virtual machine’s network setting is set to bridge so it has an ip address on your local network. Follow the steps under Selecting Bridge Networking)
  6. In your Putty profile Go to X11 and make sure forwarding is turned on. Save your profile.

  7. Now, ssh in to your Virtualbox machine and start an x-windows app.
  8. You should see the eerie “xeyes” program staring at your right on your Windows desktop!:

    That’s right, a Linux program running right on top of your local Windows desktop (actually the graphical elements are being forwarded by your virtualbox session to xming). Really cool and the Windows resizing and movements are unlimited by the Virtualbox Console. Try moving the window around – acts like any other Windows program.
  9. For programs that require sudo you have to use the “-E” option:
     
  10. Now you should see something like this – completely cool. I’ve labeled all the windows so you can appreciate the fact that the gparted GUI is running separately from the Putty and Virtualbox consoles:

    And here’s a video:

Enabling 2 Factor Authorization (2FA) on Ebay (No Need to Buy a Security Key)

This method may still work but is no longer necessary; ebay now offers 2 factor authentication in its account setttings. Go to My Account->Security Information->2 Step verification. Change this to “on” and follow the instructinos.

It’s nearly impossible to figure out how to activate 2 factor authentication on ebay but it can be done. The only thing Ebay offers on its website is 2 factor authorization through a purchased security key. But you don’t need to buy a physical key, you can just use the free Symantec VIP Access app.

 

  1. First, before activating, make sure you have a valid phone number in your profile with Ebay. If something goes wrong and you can’t login after 2 factor is enabled, Ebay will need to call you to verify your identity before letting you back into your account. See this FAQ.
  2. On your mobile phone, download the Symantec VIP Access app: Android App, IOS App.
  3.  

  4. Open the App on your phone.
  5.  

  6. On your computer browser, login to Ebay and go to the Ebay Security Key activation page. Using the VIP Access App, type in your Credential ID for Step 1, 2 security codes generated in a row for steps 2 and 3 as described in the following steps.
  7.  

  8. You will see the following:
  9.  

  10. Step 1: Enter Your Credential ID from Your VIP Access APP – YOU MUST INCLUDE THE “SYMC” plus the 8 digits with no spaces so something like the following with the XXs replaced with numbers:
     
    SYMCXXXXXXXX
  11.  

  12. Step 2: Wait until a new security code is generated in your VIP Access page and type in the six numbers displayed into the “Step 2” box on the activation page.
  13.  

  14. Step 3: Type in the very next security code generated in this step. If you miss the timing then you need to start over at step 2.
  15.  

  16. Click “Activate” on the ebay page. You’re done. It should give you a success messsage and put you back to your settings page, warning you that you’ll need to type n the security code each time you login.
  17.  

  18. Questions on your Security Key ? See the Ebay Faq. :

Having Trouble Accessing HTTPS Sites with Firefox ? Firefox NetNanny Issues

Photo by Dai KE on Unsplash

When NetNanny runs, it monitors https: sites by presenting to the browser the NetNanny certificate instead of the website’s certificate. This may be misinterpreted by Firefox or other browsers (I have found the problem only with Firefox) as a bad certificate.

If you are getting an error stating “This Connection is Untrusted” and errors such as “sec_error_cert_signature_algorithm_disabled” or “sec_error_unknown_issuer” or other errors while NetNanny is active but not when NetNanny is disabled, then here’s the fix:

Import NetNanny Certificate into Firefox:

  1. Options->Advanced->Certificates->View Certificates

    2016-03-11_0-18-56-firefoxadvanced

  2. Click Import
    2016-03-11_0-22-12-import

  3. Navigate to your Net Nanny Install Directory and select the “.PEM” file which should having a name something like “ContentWatch Trusted Root Authority.pem:

    2016-03-11_0-24-23

  4. You should now have the Content Watch Certificate Installed (you may have to click on OK).
  5. Restart Firefox
  6. You should now be able to view any page with an https: link (default google.com page, gmail, etc.)

Hacking the PogoPlug Mobile – Adding Airprint and CloudPrint (Print From ChromeBook without a Cloudprint Printer)

I purchased a Pogo Plug Mobile (Model POGO-V4-A1-01) for $10 off ebay a few weeks ago.

pogoplug-mobile

This version of the PogoPlug comes with the following:

  • 88F6192 Kirkwood ARMv5 NAS system-on-chip running at 800 MHz
  • 1 Gigabit Ethernet
  • 1 2.0 USB Port
  • SD Card Slot

I knew it could be used for a file server but did not have much use for it at the time so put it on the shelf. A few weeks later my elementary school age daughter needed to print from her Chromebook from home. Chromebooks are becoming very popular at schools. They are relatively inexpensive, easy to use, and able to be tightly administered by the school. Unfortunately it is very difficult to print from one at home. Since it doesn’t run from windows, you must have a printer that is “Cloudprint” enabled to work with google chrome or keep another computer running with Chrome. Since I had an old Samsung 4521f printer and didn’t want to keep my computer running all day, I decided to get my Pogoplug off the shelf and do some hacking.

Warning: This involves removing the built in software on your PogoPlug and will remove all “stock” functionality that it came with. You will not be able to use the PogoPlug services. This WILL void your warranty. In addition, all these instructions and this post is at your own risk.
  1. Plug an ethernet cable into your PogoPlug, pop an empty 2GB or more SD Card into the SD Card slot, and plug your PogoPlug into the wall.
  2. Using your browser, navigate to your ip address for your router (usually 192.168.0.1 or something similar, see your router manual), login to your admin interface, and look at the connected devices and determine what ip address your PogoPlug is using.
  3. Enable SSH.
  4. To enable SSH, create an account at the PogoPlug website. Activate your pogoplug, then go to Settings in the Web interface, select Security Settings, and then select the checkbox for Enable SSH for this Pogoplog-enabled device. A dialog box will open and ask you to assign a password for the root use.

    Screenshot is at: Pogoplug help.

  5. Using Putty, connect to your Pogoplug.
  6. Login with root/ceadmin.

    To avoid typos, as much as possible copy all commands using your mouse and paste them into your ssh console (paste is usually just a single right click)
  7. Follow these instructions from Qui’s blog post “Hacking the Pogoplug v4 (Series 4 and Mobile) with Linux (Debian or Arch)” but only to “Debian/ALARM Installation on SD Card (or USB Hard/Flash Drive)” – DO NOT do that step.
  8. Also, make sure you install netconsole. He says it is optional but if you have problems you will need it to diagnose them. Also, install “asuc” on your windows computer that is accessing the pogoplug, asuc: A Simple Udp Console. This will let you see what’s going on inside your PogoPlug or at least initial boot without having to SSH in.

    WARNING: I”ll say that again. DO NOT DO “Debian/ALARM Installation” section in Qui’s blog. You will get what will look like a bricked device if you try to install Arch on the SD Card (if you do do this, it isn’t bricked but you will need to install debian on a flash stick and reboot and you should be able to log in by ssh) Only do the debian install onto the SD Card as illustrated in next step.
  9. Ok, now that you are done with Qui’s instructions, install Debian on the SD Card:

    If you have problems, see Qui’s post for troubleshooting

  10. Setup Debian
  11. Install Printer services:
  12. Backup CUPS configuration and install new cupsd.conf.
  13. Make sure your Printer is connected to the USB port of your PogoPlug. If you have a network printer, you can leave it networked but find out what the IP addreess of the printer is.
  14. Navigate to the ipaddress of your PogoPlug, using port 631. Example: http://192.168.031:631

    You should see the CUPS web interface. Go to Home->Add Printers and Classes->Add Printer. Follow the wizard.
    CUPS printer system works with many but not all printers. A printer connected directly through the USB port is easiest for you to setup, but you can also setup a network printer using an IP address. You will need to know how to connect and what IP protocol to use. For troubleshooting see CUPS help (links are ont he CUPS admin interface web page).

  15. Add Print Driver:

    This is what I did to print to my Samsung 4521f printer on my home network which was plugged into a Belkin router running Toastman’s mod of tomatoUSB:

    • Add Printer->Other Network Printers->LPD/LPR Host or Printer ->
    • Entering into connection: socket://192.168.0.33:9100 (ip address that belkin router that the printer connects to).
    • I used the Samsung ml-4500 gdi driver. (I downloaded a gdi from http://www.openprinting.org/driver/gdi/). The driver that was listed in the CUPS in interface did not work.
  16. For security purposes, setup a separate Google gmail account to use that will be the owner of the printers.
  17. Install Cloudprint for Debian

You should be good to go. The trickiest part may be the print drivers.

Record Live Radio Station Stream to Mp3 in WIndows

This method is ideal to record long period of time from a radio station (e.g. talk radio). There are many ways to do this but this uses free tools.

These are very “quick and dirty” instructions that assume basic computer knowledge.

  1. Download VLC: http://www.videolan.org/vlc/index.html
  2. Find a radio station that broadcasts in mp3 audio stream. This is the hardest part. Many radio stations do not but a few still do. The url sometimes ends with a “m3u” or “pls” extension. Like this:
    http://www.publicbroadcasting.net/kmfa/ppr/index.shtml

    Copy and paste youre radio stream into VLC by opening Media->Open Network Stream->copy in the url. If it starts playing, go to Tools->codec information in VLC and make sure it says “mpeg” audio or something similar. In any event if VLC plays it shoudl work. If the url ends with “m3u” or “pls” right click on the link, download the file and open it in note pad and get the real link. For example, in the example above the real link to the stream is: http://pubint.ic.llnwd.net/stream/pubint_kmfa

  3. Open up a text editor and paste in the following making the appropriate changes for your radio stream (using the above as an example):

    The stop time is the number of seconds to record. Here it is set for one hour (60 x 60). The c:\audio line is the path to your output file with some extra batch variables thrown in to automatically add date and time of recording.

  4. Save the text file something descriptive like “Record KMFA Radio Station.bat”.
  5. Open up the Task Scheduler in Windows and Create a new task to run the batch file at the time your program starts.

    I won’t go into details on this but here’s link that gives general instructions:

Also, some written instructions on using the task manager from LifeHacker.

That’s it!