Cleaning and Optimizing a Windows Computer Safely

April 24th, 2017

Even without getting hit by a virus or piece of malware, every Windows user has probably had to clean up their system just because accumulated crud begins to affect performance. These instructions from Swift on Security are about the best I’ve seen on how to clean up and optimize a Windows computer without creating a worse mess than the one you were in.

This is a guide to maintenance for Windows 7 and higher. It will also remove many viruses and repair their damage. These procedures can help machines that are several years old. If your computer is a business machine, please ask your IT department first.

All these tasks have been performed by me or my scripts across tens, hundreds, or over a thousand computers. You can read my qualifications here.

The order of these steps is purposeful. For example - uninstalling some programs, running a temp file clean, and rebooting can leave them in a broken state.

NASA Image and Video Library

April 19th, 2017

NASA now has a new portal site where you can find images, video, and audio from many of their missions. It’s searchable and everything is downloadable. Images include captions and other relevant information. For a space junkie, it’s a time sink. This is from the “New Uploads” link.

Fixing the Unicode Domain Hack

April 18th, 2017

There’s a new phishing vulnerability in browsers that uses Unicode to create domain names that look like real domains but actually point to sites that host malware. This article explains the hack and what you can do to avoid it.  It’s an easy fix for Firefox and Chrome should be patched soon.

This variant of a phishing attack uses unicode to register domains that look identical to real domains. These fake domains can be used in phishing attacks to fool users into signing into a fake website, thereby handing over their login credentials to an attacker.

This affects the current version of Chrome browser, which is version 57.0.2987 and the current version of Firefox, which is version 52.0.2. This does not affect Internet Explorer or Safari browsers.

Saving Climate Data in Toronto

April 17th, 2017

Even before the Trump administration took power, researchers were taking steps to preserve and archive data that might be lost because of the new administrations ant-science policies.  Toronto is ar the forefront of the movement, which is still going on.

It’s thend scouring the intern Saturday before Trump takes office. Dozens of concerned citizens are organized at University of Toronto, huddled intently over their laptops, aet for climate change data. They’re racing to save years worth of invaluable environmental research before Trump, a firm climate change denier, can remove online public access to the Environmental Protection Agency. This hackathon—called the Guerilla Archiving Event—may just be the only way to preserve the integrity of scientific research in the face of some very powerful and hostile forces in the United States.Fast forward to March 2017: the Trump administration is in full swing, but where is the Guerilla Archiving movement now? Dorothy Eng of Civic Tech TO talks with Matt Price, a co-organizer of Guerrilla Archiving, to catch up on what came out of the hackathon, lessons learned by the community along the way, and why Toronto is at the heart of a growing movement.

It’s Going to Be Darker

April 11th, 2017

It’s pretty hard to ignore Neil Gaiman these days. His novel, American Gods, is going to be a major TV series which starts at the end of April. His recent story collection and essay collection have both been best sellers and his retelling of the Norse myths hit #1 on best seller lists worldwide (both to his surprise and the surprise of his publishers who had to scramble to print nore books).

Wired has a brief profile of Gaiman that’s worth reading.

Now, after years in development, American Gods has been adapted into a television series, airing on Amazon Prime Video in the UK this spring. Gaiman, who wrote the show with Hannibal creator Bryan Fuller, is pleased with what he’s seen. “It doesn’t feel dated,” he says. But he doesn’t enjoy the prescience of his vision. He sighs: “Even then it was weird. The first signing of the American book tour was in the Twin Towers on June 19, 2001. If anything, I feel like I was writing about stuff that was in the wind, and the wind has just been concentrating over the past 20 years.”

The same foreboding, this time deliberate, runs through Gaiman’s latest work. Norse Mythology, out on February 7, retells the myths of the Norse gods – including Odin and Loki, the two grifters of American Gods, who’ve played the role of villains in Gaiman’s work since Sandman. The idea germinated eight years ago, when Gaiman was starting a relationship with the musician Amanda Palmer. She was diligently reading his back catalogue, including American Gods. “She really hadn’t got it and she kept saying, ‘I wish this was annotated,’” Gaiman recalls. “I thought it would be interesting just to do a retelling.”

Current Distribution of DITA Users Worldwide

April 10th, 2017

Here’s an interesting article that looks at the current distribution of DITA users worldwide. As you might expect the majority are in North America and the UK, but DITA is making gains in Europe and Asia, particularly India.

My main source for finding new companies to add to my list of companies that use DITA on the DITAWriter website is LinkedIn. In order to answer the question: “where are DITA users located across the world?”, for the past few years I have done a broad search asking how many individuals claimed “DITA XML” experience on their online resumes, and I could filter that by the country they reside in. (Searching for “DITA XML” is much more specific than doing a search on just “DITA”, as that picks up people who have worked for the eyeglass firm of the same name or women who have that as their first name.)

Sadly, one of the more recent “improvements” to LinkedIn’s internal search mechanism has removed this convenient function, but I managed to get the data on the top countries where DITA users reside just before LinkedIn shut this useful feature down. What I find interesting is how many more people are claiming DITA experience when compared to late 2014, and how those proportions are gradually shifting worldwide.

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