Category Archives: Computer Repair

Passwords in Windows are changing

Microsoft has published a draft security revision for Windows 10 version 1903 (May 2019 Update) that changes security requirements for Windows 10 desktop users and Windows Server 2016 / Windows Server 2019 (read the new draft at https://blogs.technet.microsoft.com/secguide/2019/04/24/security-baseline-draft-for-windows-10-v1903-and-windows-server-v1903/ ).

The biggest change in the draft security revision is that Microsoft is dropping the password expiration policy. Previously, Microsoft had set the default password expiration period at 90 days.

Microsoft explained the purpose behind changing the password expiration policies in the draft security revision:


When humans pick their own passwords, too often they are easy to guess or predict. When humans are assigned or forced to create passwords that are hard to remember, too often they’ll write them down where others can see them. When humans are forced to change their passwords, too often they’ll make a small and predictable alteration to their existing passwords, and/or forget their new passwords.

Microsoft TechNet

Which makes perfect sense. The purpose of password expiration policies are to force password changes assuming that someone’s password will frequently be compromised. If a password never gets compromised, there is no need to change the password regularly.

There are a handful of other important changes coming in the May 2019 Update of Windows 10. Some of the more notable changes are:

  • Removing multicast name resolution
  • Removing Data Execution Prevention for Windows Explorer
  • Removing Heap termination on corruption
  • Limiting NetBT NodeType to P-node
  • Creating a svchost.exe mitigation policy
  • Removing BitLocker drive encryption ciphers
  • Removing built-in Windows admin account
  • Removing built-in Windows guest account
  • Adding Kerberos authentication audit settings

If you are having security problems or any other issue with your Windows 10 computer and would like some assistance, please give us a call at 1-800-620-5285.  Karls Technology is a nationwide computer service company with offices in many major cities.  This blog post is brought to you from our staff at the Arvada Computer Repair Service, if you need computer repair in Arvada, CO please call the local office at (720) 441-6460 or schedule an appointment at www.arvadacomputerrepairservice.com.

PC can't be upgraded to Windows 10

PC can’t be upgraded to Windows 10

The May 2019 Update for Windows 10 is right around the corner and Microsoft is pre warning everyone about a known problem.  In the May 2019 Update support document (available at https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/4500988/windows-update-blocked-because-of-drive-reassignment), Microsoft is warning Windows 10 users that have an external USB device or SD memory card attached to their computer.

If you have either an external USB device or SD memory card your computer will receive the error message:

This PC can’t be upgraded to Windows 10.

:when you try to update your computer.  The reason for the error is that the new May 2019 update may cause inappropriate drive reassignment if a Windows 10 user has an external USB device or SD memory card.

As of now, Microsoft will block the May 2019 Update on any computer with an external USB device or SD memory card.  If you want to upgrade immediately, before Microsoft resolves this bug, there is a really simple work around for the issue.  Unplug any external USB devices and SD memory card adapters and run the Windows 10 May 2019 Update.  Once the May 2019 Update is fully installed and you are back in a working Windows 10 environment, plus your external USB devices and SD memory cards back into the computer.

If you are having a problem with your Windows 10 computer and are receiving the This PC can’t be upgraded to Windows 10 error and would like some assistance, please give us a call at 1-800-620-5285.  Karls Technology is a nationwide computer service company with offices in many major cities.  This blog post is brought to you from our staff at the Arlington Computer Repair Service, if you need computer repair in Arlington, TX please call the local office at (817) 756-6008 or schedule an appointment at www.arlingtoncomputerrepairservice.com.

MS Paint is not going away in Windows 1903

Windows Paint going away?

Microsoft announced back in 2017 that Microsoft Paint (MS Paint) was going to be deprecated and removed in the next Creators Update https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/4034825/features-that-are-removed-or-deprecated-in-windows-10-fall-creators-up.  Many of us MS Paint fans and users have been worried every time we open it because it posts a deprecation warning message each time you run the application.

Brandon Leblanc, the Sr Program Manager at Microsoft just tweeted that Microsoft Paint will be included in Windows 10 for now.  Microsoft has also removed the deprecation warning message each time you run the application.

Us fans of MS Paint can celebrate for a little while longer while we resist the change that always happens with new software!

MS Paint is not going away in Windows 1903

This blog post is brought to you from our staff at the Aurora Computer Repair Service, if you need computer repair in Aurora, CO please call the local office at (720) 441-6460 or schedule an appointment at www.auroracomputerrepairservice.com.

End of Life for Windows 7

All good things must come to an end.

Windows 7 End of Life

The last day of support for Windows 7 is January 14, 2020.  After which, Microsoft will no longer provide security updates or support for PCs running Windows 7.  With over half a year until END OF LIFE day for Windows 7 you should start making plans now.  All Windows 7 computers can be upgraded to Windows 10 and as of today, Windows 7 keys are still authenticating for Windows 10 installations.

The other option is to replace your computer and have all your data migrated to your new system.  Give us a call at 1-800-620-5285 and talk with one of our support specialists to figure out which is the best option for you.

You can read more about the End of Life for Windows 7 at https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/windowsforbusiness/end-of-windows-7-support

 

Zeroday exploit for Windows and Chrome

There is a zeroday (meaning infection in the wild that was just publicly acknowledged and is infecting people) exploit for Windows 10 (and previous versions of Windows) combined with an exploit in Google Chrome .  You need to make sure to update both your Google Chrome to the latest version and apply any pending Windows 10 (or 7, 8, etc) updates.  Read more about it at:

https://arstechnica-com.cdn.ampproject.org/v/s/arstechnica.com/information-technology/2019/03/attackers-are-actively-exploiting-a-serious-windows-zeroday-in-the-wild/?amp=1&amp_js_v=0.1

Windows 10 Spring Creators Update

The new Spring Creators Update for Windows 10 will be released this week.  There will be many new features with this release, including the ability to resume past activities in timeline and a file sharing feature with nearby devices. There will be other features coming as well, including a rebuilt Game Bar with a new Fluent design UI, a diagnostic data viewing tool in the Security and Privacy section, and Cortana is reportedly easier to use with a new Organizer interface and My Skills tab.

Read more about the new Spring Creators Update for Windows 10 here:

https://hothardware.com/news/microsoft-confirms-windows-10-april-update-release-build-17134

Unpatchable Nintendo Switch Exploit

 

A newly published exploit for the Nintendo Switch console is unpatchable.  The exploit can’t be fixed via a downloadable patch because the exploit makes use of a vulnerability in the USB recovery mode, circumventing the lock-out operations that would usually protect the bootROM. The flawed bootROM can’t be modified once the chip leaves the factory. Access to the fuses needed to configure the device’s ipatches was blocked when the ODM_PRODUCTION fuse was burned, so no bootROM update is possible.

Nintendo may be able to detect hacked systems when they sign into Nintendo’s online servers. Nintendo could then ban those systems from accessing the servers and disable the hacked Switch’s online functions.

You can read more about the Unpatchable Nintendo Switch Exploit at:

https://arstechnica.com/gaming/2018/04/the-unpatchable-exploit-that-makes-every-current-nintendo-switch-hackable/

Commodore Plus/4

Plus/4 – 121 colors in 1984!

Model:           Commodore Plus/4 

Manufactured:    1984 

Processor:       7501/8501 ~0.88MHz when the raster beam is on the
visible screen and ~1.77MHz the rest of the time. (The TED chip
generates the processor frequency). The resulting speed is equal to the
vic-20. A PAL vic-20 is faster than this NTSC machine, but a PAL Plus/4
is just a little faster than a PAL vic-20.

Memory:          64Kb (60671 bytes available in Basic)

Graphics:        TED 7360 (Text Editing Device 7360 HMOS)
          
Hi-Resolution:   320x200                 
                 Colors: 121 (All can be visible at the same time)     
                 Hardware reverse display of characters     
                 Hardware blinking
                 Hardware cursor
                 Smooth scrolling
                 Multicolor 160x200
                 (No sprites)

Sound:           TED (7360)
                 2 voices (two tones or one tone + noise)
"OS"             Basic 3.5
Built in         Tedmon, software:
                 "3-plus-1" = word processor, spreadsheet, database and
                 graphs.

History and thoughts

The Plus/4 was called 264 as a prototype (January 1984) and was supposed to have customer selectable built in software. But they decided to ship all with the same built in software and rename the computer Plus/4 (June 1984). (The reason for the long delay was that Commodore’s factories were busy producing C64s). There was other versions available of the same “TED” computer (more or less): The C16 – Looks like a black Vic20 with white keys but is the same computer as the Plus/4, but with no built in software (except for Tedmon), only 16kb of ram, and no RS232. Why it looks like a vic-20 is because Commodore intended it as a replacement for the vic-20 when it was cancelled in 1984. There was also a C116 with the same features as the C16 but looked like a Plus/4 with rubber keys. About 400,000 Plus/4s were made (compared to 2,5 million vic-20s and something like 15 million C64s).

The reason why the Plus/4 wasn’t more popular was one: The C64! Commodore kind of competed with themselves. Let’s list the benefits with the two computers:

 Plus/4:
   * 121 colors (compared to c64's 16)
   * Very powerful basic
   * Built in machine language monitor
   * A little faster
   * Built in software
   * Lower price

 C64:
   * Sprite graphics
   * Better sound
   * Lots of software available
   * All your frieds have one
   * Your old vic-20 tape recorder will work without an adapter
   * Your old vic-20 joysticks will work without adapters

Well, which would you choose?

Well, Basic 3.5 is quite powerful. It has commands for graphics, sound, disk commands, error handling etc. I counted 111 commands/functions (compared to 70 for the C64). On the c64, POKE and PEEK is the only way to access graphics, sprites and sound. And with most of those registers being two bytes big and the chips a bit complex to set up, that is quite troublesome and time consuming for the basic. And drawing graphics with lines, circles etc using only basic on the c64 is just impossible (or would take a year!) On the other hand – if basic programming doesn’t interest you, but copying pirate copied games from your friends, then the c64 is your computer… I mean back then! 😉

There was more reasons than just the c64 for the Plus/4’s lack of success. There are many theories about this on the internet so instead of just repeating them, I would like to contribute with another one: The strange names! Why on earth name the same line of computers so differently! The Plus/4, C16 and C116 is more compatible than a vic-20 with and without memory expansion! And they even look different! I would have made two different computers:”TED-64″ (Plus/4) and”TED-16″ (The C16, but in a Plus/4 case).

They would also have normal joystick and tape ports (or adapters included with the computer). The 3-plus-1 software could have been left out and been sold separately on a cartridge to bring down the price of the computer. It could have been sold together with the computer in a bundle at a reduced price if you wanted to. This way the original 264 idea about customer selectable included software could have been doable with all the selectable software on different cartridges.


My impressions

I have just got the Plus/4, but my impression of it so far is very positive. It’s little and neat. I like the basic and the graphics. The computer has very much “Commodore” feeling. I would say it’s like a mix between the vic-20 (for the simplicity, one graphcis/sound chip and default colors), the C64 (for the similar graphics) and the C128 (for the powerful basic and the similarities with the 128’s VDC chip features like blinking etc.) The Plus/4 also have the Esc codes that the C128 has. The machine language monitor is also almost the same. But in the same time the Plus/4 is simple and easy to survey like the vic-20. I think it’s a well designed computer. The only thing I don’t like about the Plus/4 is the lack of a Restore key. But there are work-arounds (Runstop+reset for example). I have written some more tips about this in the manuals below.

The same people designing the Plus/4 (except for one) later designed the C128.

If you plan to get a Plus/4, then you might want to know that the 1541 diskdrive is working, the video cable is the same as for the c64 (at least composite and sound that my cable is using). But for joysticks, you need to make a little adapter, also for the tape recorder (if it isn’t of the black type that has a built in adapter).

My Plus/4 is a NTSC machine with a 110V power supply. And living in Sweden I needed to buy a 220->110v converter. The Plus/4 does not need the frequency from the PSU (like the C64), so a simple converter that generates 110v 50Hz is fine. My Plus/4 has a square power plug. Others have a round one, and then I could have used an European c64 power supply instead. There are of course PAL Plus/4s as well, but I got mine for free and I like the NTSC display too. No BIG border around the screen like on all PAL Commodores. The NTSC Plus/4 has also a little faster key repeat, so it feels a little faster even though the PAL version runs faster. BUT – There is MUCH more PAL software available it seems…


This is an archive of pug510w’s Dator Museum which disappeared from the internet in 2017. We wanted to preserve the knowledge about the Commodore Plus/4 and are permanently hosting a copy of Dator Museum.

Commodore Computer History Archive

As I train new our computer systems engineers I have found that few of them know anything about the Commodore home computer systems. In the early 1990s, when I first started getting into electronics and computers, Commodores were everywhere. By the mid 90s they were ancient relics. I always had five or six laying around the shop. Most were given to me for spare parts from customers. The majority of them had no issues, they were just out dated. For fun and to train new guys, we repaired many of them over the years. Over the years, less and less of our computer systems engineers had any experience on Commodores. Today, virtually no one under 35 knows what a Commodore computer system is.

The MOS 6502 chip

The reason why a 15 year old could work on a Commodore was that the systems were all based around simple CPUs. The MOS 6502 was very easy to diagnose issues with and repair. All I needed to work on the circuits was a simple analog volt meter and a reference voltage. Digital voltmeters were very expensive in the 1990s, I don’t think we had one until the late 90s.

For example, most prominent home computer systems and video game systems in the 1980s and 1990s had a MOS 6502 or a derivative within them. These derivative chips were called the 650x or the 6502 family of chips. The Commodore VIC-20, Commodore 64, Apple II, Atari 800, Atari 2600 and NES all had a 6502 or 650x chips in them. Almost everything made from the mid 1970s to the mid 1980s had a connection to the 6502 family. By the late 1980s newer and faster chips by Motorola and Intel replaced the MOS 6502 family as the primary go to processor.

Commodore History Disappearing

While I train new field engineers here at Karls Technology I have been looking online for reference materials about Commodores. Back in the 1990s reference material was available at the library, in hobby magazines and BBS’s. Today, I find very little good reference material about Commodores, MOS or the 6502 family of chips. Previously, you could find people that worked for MOS, Commodore or GMT around the internet. As those engineers of yesterday pass way their knowledge of the history of computing leaves us.

Before the days of blogs, much of the early computing history was recorded on early engineer’s personal websites. Those websites have gone offline or were hosted by companies that not longer exist.

Computer History Archive

Due to this knowledge leaving us and much of it only existing in an offline capacity; we decided to start archiving Commodore, 6502 family and other early computer history information. Therefore, we will scan and post below any knowledge we find in an offline repository. In addition, any historical personal websites about early computer history from yesteryear will be archived here. Our goal is to document as much early computer history as possible.

Text Editing Device TED 7360 Datasheet

Commodore Plus/4 Specifications

Commodore Semiconductor Group’s Superfund Site from the EPA

Designing Calm Technology by Mark Weiser, Xerox, 1995.