Adware takes screenshot of victim’s desktop without their permission

Researchers have come across a nasty adware variant that takes a screenshot of a user’s computer desktop without their permission.

Lawrence Abrams, a computer security expert at Bleeping Computer, notes in a blog post that the adware, known as “Faster Internet,” has a penchant for collecting unsuspecting users’ data:

“When Faster Internet is installed it will create a fingerprint consisting of information related to your motherboard, CPU, hard drives, network adapters, and other information about your computer. This information is then uploaded to the developers server. It will then take a screenshot of the active display on your computer at the time of the install and send this screenshot along with your IP address to [a .online URL]”

Someone with Faster Internet installed on their machine never receives a notification that the adware is taking a screenshot of their desktop.

That could spell trouble for a user in so many ways, explains Abrams.

“The problem is that when this program is installed, the user may have confidential documents, web sites, or programs open that will be now be included in the screenshot and uploaded to these scumbags. What if the victim had a password manager open to their online bank account, or their tax return showing their social security number and address, or private images that they do not want disclosed? As nobody knows who the people behind this are and what they may do with this information, this behavior is a serious cause for concern.”

Faster Internet is not the only adware that has threatened users’ security in recent months. Back in February 2015, the world first learned of Superfish, a piece of adware which could intercept HTTPS-encrypted traffic on all Lenovo PCs in an attempt to inject ads into users’ web browsers.

Superfish cert

Given that users affected by Superfish could no longer trust HTTPS web connections, Microsoft decided to adjust its malware objective criteria back in December in an effort to prevent adware similar to Superfish from adversely affecting users’ security.

Users who wish to protect themselves against adware should maintain an up-to-date anti-virus provider on their computers. (To illustrate, as of this writing, 17 out of 56 solutions currently flag Faster Internet as malicious.)

Users might also want to consider installing an adblocker like AdBlock Plus. Those types of browser extensions cannot block adware outright, but it can block ads that might redirect to websites hosting adware and other malicious software.

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Apple confirms QuickTime for Windows is dead, Adobe stuck between rock and hard place

Running QuickTime for Windows on your PC? You should uninstall it. NOW.

Windows PC users have been urged to uninstall Apple’s QuickTime media player from their computers as soon as possible, and Adobe has been caught in the fix.

Researchers at the cybersecurity firm Trend Micro recently discovered two critical vulnerabilities in QuickTime for Windows that could allow hackers to hijack affected computers. The Department of Homeland Security has backed up that warning, and Apple AAPL 0.17% themselves have posted instructions on how to remove the software from your PC.

But that has left Adobe ADBE -0.20% in the lurch, as detailed in a blog post issued last Saturday. Some of the company’s video-focused applications require QuickTime for Windows, and those using Adobe Creative Cloud—a subscription-based suite of Adobe products that boasts around 7 million users—are especially affected.



It affects its Creative Cloud users.

Windows PC users have been urged to uninstall Apple’s QuickTime media player from their computers as soon as possible, and Adobe has been caught in the fix.

Researchers at the cybersecurity firm Trend Micro recently discovered two critical vulnerabilities in QuickTime for Windows that could allow hackers to hijack affected computers. The Department of Homeland Security has backed up that warning, and Apple AAPL 0.17% themselves have posted instructions on how to remove the software from your PC.

But that has left Adobe ADBE -0.20% in the lurch, as detailed in a blog post issued last Saturday. Some of the company’s video-focused applications require QuickTime for Windows, and those using Adobe Creative Cloud—a subscription-based suite of Adobe products that boasts around 7 million users—are especially affected.

“Unfortunately, there are some codecs which remain dependent on QuickTime being installed on Windows, most notably Apple ProRes. We know how common this format is in many workflows, and we continue to work hard to improve this situation, but have no estimated timeframe for native decode currently,” the company said in its blog post.

Adobe is no stranger to security issues—the company was famously chastised by Apple’s founder Steve Jobs for its unstable Flash software—and the latest news has not pleased some Creative Cloud users, such as founding editor Chris Dickman.

“Unfortunately? Let me paraphrase that for you: “We didn’t see this coming, your systems are compromised if you keep using our software and we will make no commitment to fixing this.” Sweet. Of course, Windows users are just expected to suck that up,” he writes in a post online.

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Update now! Adobe to issue emergency security patch

Adobe Systems this week rushed out an emergency patch to plug a security hole in its widely-installed Flash Player software, warning that the vulnerability is already being exploited in active attacks.

brokenflash-aAdobe said a “critical” bug exists in all versions of Flash including Flash versions and lower (older) across a broad range of systems, including Windows, Mac, Linux and Chrome OS. Find out if you have Flash and if so what version by visiting this link.

In a security advisory, the software maker said it is aware of reports that the vulnerability is being actively exploited on systems running Windows 7 and Windows XP with Flash Player version and earlier. 

Adobe said additional security protections built into all versions of Flash including and newer should block this flaw from being exploited. But even if you’re running one of the newer versions of Flash with the additional protections, you should update, hobble or remove Flash as soon as possible.

The smartest option is probably to ditch the program once and for all and significantly increase the security of your system in the process. I’ve got more on that approach (as well as slightly less radical solutions ) in A Month Without Adobe Flash Player.

If you choose to update, please do it today. The most recent versions of Flash should be available from the Flash home page. Windows users who browse the Web with anything other than Internet Explorer may need to apply this patch twice, once with IE and again using the alternative browser (Firefox, Opera, e.g.). Chrome and IE should auto-install the latest Flash version on browser restart (I had to manually restart Chrome to get the latest Flash version).

By the way, I’m not the only one trying to make it easier for people to put a lasso on Flash: In a blog post today, Microsoft said Microsoft Edge users on Windows 10 will auto-pause Flash content that is not central to the Web page. The new feature will be available in Windows 10 build 14316.

“Peripheral content like animations or advertisements built with Flash will be displayed in a paused state unless the user explicitly clicks to play that content,” wrote the Microsoft Edge team. “This significantly reduces power consumption and improves performance while preserving the full fidelity of the page. Flash content that is central to the page, like video and games, will not be paused. We are planning for and look forward to a future where Flash is no longer necessary as a default experience in Microsoft Edge.”

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Security alert: Some Firefox Extensions are vulnerable for malware


It’s a good idea to check your browser extensions if you use Firefox. Nine of the 10 most popular extensions for Mozilla’s browser open computers to malware and security breaches, according to a research paper presented at the Black Hat conference by a group from Northeastern University.


Among the top Firefox add-ons, only AdBlock Plus doesn’t make your system vulnerable. The nine that do allow potential problems are Video DownloadHelper, Firebug, NoScript Security Suite, DownthemAll!, Greasemonkey, Web of Trust, Flash Video Downloader, FlashGot Mass Downloader, and Download Youtube Videos as MP4. These 10 are all available on the Mozilla website.


The problem occurs when users install Firefox add-ons. Because of the way Firefox is designed, those add-ons aren’t protected from each other. The researchers reported that an add-on with malware can “conceal its malicious behavior by invoking the capabilities of other add-ons.” The bottom line is when you download and subsequently use a trusted add-on with the vulnerability, destructive action may take place in the background while you think everything is working correctly.


Nick Nguyen, VP of product for Firefox, acknowledged the issue in a statement to Digital Trends: “The way add-ons are implemented in Firefox today allows for the scenario hypothesized and presented at Black Hat Asia. The method described relies on a popular add-on that is vulnerable to be installed, and then for the add-on that takes advantage of that vulnerability to also be installed.

“Because risks such as this one exist, we are evolving both our core product and our extensions platform to build in greater security,” continued Nguyen. “The new set of browser extension APIs that make up WebExtensions, which are available in Firefox today, are inherently more secure than traditional add-ons, and are not vulnerable to the particular attack outlined in the presentation at Black Hat Asia. As part of our electrolysis initiative – our project to introduce multi-process architecture to Firefox later this year – we will start to sandbox Firefox extensions so that they cannot share code.“

How to remove Firefox Add-ons


If have Firefox installed on your computer, here’s what you can do today.


In the upper right corner of your display, on the same line where you enter URLs, look on the far right. Click on the icon with three horizontal lines to bring up the settings menu. Click on Add-ons. An Add-on Manager browser tab will open with a menu on the upper left side of your screen. By default the menu will open the Extensions window; this is where you want to check for any of the problem add-ons we mentioned above in this article.


If you find them, our suggestion is to remove them by clicking the Remove button for each. Don’t just click the Disable button to turn them off, you want them gone, so hit Remove.


If you find and remove vulnerable add-ons, it’s a great idea to run antivirus and spam checking software on your system. Set scan options for a full system check, not just the quick check mode most virus and malware scanning programs offer. Computer security, even for single systems at home, is a never-ending concern.



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Windows 10 reviews are in, the people love it – here’s how to get it

Despite some bugs, it’s much, much better than Windows 8.

Microsoft has released their latest version of the Windows operating system. And a look around the Web has revealed a consensus: Windows 10 rocks.

Our long national nightmare is over — Windows 8.1 is no longer the current version of Windows. Now it’s Windows 10, and today’s the day it hits the airwaves for what appears to be as many people as Microsoft can keep the servers running for. For a while, it was expected that only Insiders would get it first, followed by those who request the update, as well as anyone who buys a new machine starting today. It appears that lots of people are getting it right away though, which is a nice surprise.

To install it on your current machine, first check Windows Update; you should see a notification saying that it’s available, assuming you’ve pre-registered for it. If it’s there, then that’s the simplest way, and you can install it right over your current install and preserve all of your existing software and data.

Windows 10 1080p



The better news is that if you want to do a clean install of Windows 10 — say, if you’re a stickler for a super-clean machine like we are — you can do it starting today with a new Windows 10 .ISO file, which you can download straight from Microsoft’s website and install on a USB key.

Right now Windows 10 is gearing up to break Internet traffic records. Later today download speeds are expected to top 40 terabytes per second (that’s 40M megabytes per second) as millions of users rush to upgrade. The driving force is Windows 10 is free, but exactly who qualifies for this free upgrade and who is left out in the cold?

Right, let me explain:

Who Gets Windows 10 Free

  • Windows 7 Home and Professional users running Service Pack 1
  • Windows 8 Home and Professional users running the Windows 8.1 update

Limited Time Offer

Now if you are using one of the Windows versions listed above there’s one crucial caveat which has been widely misunderstood: starting today (July 29th) you have one year to upgrade to Windows 10 or you will be charged the standard retail price:

  • Windows 10 Home: $119
  • Windows 10 Pro: $199

What the one year period doesn’t mean is that Windows 10 will start charging those who upgraded for free after one year. It means you’ll have to pay to upgrade to Windows 10 if you haven’t done so already.

Once aboard you can also relax: Windows 10 has a 10 year supported lifespan in line with previous Windows releases. As per Microsoft’s Windows Lifecycle support page, Windows 10 has Mainstream Support (adding new features) until October 13, 2020 and Extended Support (delivering security updates) until October 14, 2025.

Consequently, no matter what ‘Windows as a service’ plans Microsoft may have for the future, if you sit on Windows 10 you’ll be fine until the end of Extended Support in October 2025.

Who Misses Out

Given the extent to which ‘Free’ has been thrown around with Windows 10, this is a surprisingly long list:

Windows 7 Enterprise users (even those running Service Pack 1)
Windows 8 Enterprise users (even those running the Windows 8.1 update)
Windows RT
Windows Vista
Windows XP
Users running pirated copies of Windows

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Apple may have free annual upgrades, Apple still faces stubborn OS X fragmentation

OS X edition shares April 2015

Yosemite accounted for a majority of all OS X editions in play last month, but versions from 2009 to 2012 powered one in five Macs.

Credit: Net Applications 

Although Apple has done a better job of moving its Mac users along with each new operating system than has rival Microsoft, the Cupertino, Calif. company has been unable to eradicate fragmentation as it accelerated upgrades to an annual cadence.

According to data from analytics firm Net Applications, three OS X editions that were three years or older retained five or more percentage points of user share last month. Those three editions — 2009’s Snow Leopard, 2011’s Lion and 2012’s Mountain Lion — powered 20% of all Macs in April. When 2007’s Leopard was included, the number climbed to 21.3%.

There’s no question that Apple’s policy of giving away its OS X upgrades — a practice begun in 2013 with Mavericks — has reduced fragmentation by pulling Mac owners onto the newest edition faster than did versions that carried a price tag. The current OS X Yosemite, for example, accounted for 57.5% of all Macs in April, 23 percentage points higher than where Mountain Lion stood at the same point in its post-launch timeline. Mountain Lion was the last upgrade that cost customers money.

But the annual upgrades, even free, have been unable to eliminate laggards. While Yosemite powered the majority of Macs last month, Mavericks accounted for 21%, Mountain Lion and Lion for 6% each, Snow Leopard for 8%, and Leopard for nearly 2%. More than four in every 10 Macs ran an aged OS in April.

And older OS X editions dwindle in importance at a very slow rate: Over the past six months, Snow Leopard, Lion and Mountain Lion — the upgrades launched between 2009 and 2012 — have averaged a decline of less than half a percentage point each month.

By the time Apple issues its next edition of OS X — like its two predecessors, probably tagged with a California location name — 25%, or a quarter of all Macs, will still be running Mavericks or earlier.

Those numbers stand in stark contrast to iOS, Apple’s mobile operating system. By Apple’s tally, 82% of all iOS devices now run version 8, which was released a few weeks before Yosemite last fall. 2013’s iOS 7 powered only 17% of all devices, while the rest of the even-older iOSes accounted for just a measly 2%.

Operating system makers like Apple and Microsoft may talk up accelerated release tempos, and analysts may see similarities between those efforts on personal computers and the long-standing upgrade practices by smartphone owners, but the truth is that there’s no evidence to show consumers take to a new computer OS at the same pace as they do mobile operating systems.

Eliminating fragmentation is a goal of all OS makers, for it homogenizes the user base, providing developers a large and theoretically lucrative target for apps and services that leverage the latest features and APIs (application programming interfaces). More customers on the latest version can also reduce support costs, and newer OSes are typically more secure.

Microsoft, especially, has been talking up fragmentation, or the reduction of fragmentation, among its Windows users as it beats the Windows 10 drum.

“Today Windows customers are spread across many versions. This fragmentation makes it challenging for developers to delight our customers with applications,” said Terry Myerson, the Microsoft executive who leads the Windows group, in January when he announced that Windows 10 would be a free upgrade for consumers and some businesses.

In fact, Microsoft has set an ambitious goal of getting Windows 10 onto 1 billion devices — or two-thirds of those currently running Windows — by mid-2018, part of its anti-fragmentation strategy as it pivots toward making money from services and apps.

Windows is much more fragmented than is OS X, of course: As of April, about 17% of all Windows PCs ran 2001’s Windows XP, more than the share of Windows 8/8.1, Microsoft’s newest OS. And unlike Apple’s most popular edition, Microsoft’s was 2009’s Windows 7, which accounted for 64% of all in-use Windows versions.

Operating systems on personal computers have a long “tail,” something even Apple has found out.

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Should I buy a Windows 8.1 PC now or wait for Windows 10?

Will Windows 10 Pro cost more if I wait for the release of Windows 10? I can buy a Windows 8.1 machine and wait for a free Windows 10 upgrade, but would I be penalized for waiting to buy a laptop with Windows 10 already installed?

Windows 10, the much-anticipated successor to Microsoft’s Windows 8 operating system, is expected to launch in late July, according to the latest leaks.

AMD chief executive Lisa Su let the date slip in a conference call with analysts and investors in April. AMD is one of the world’s largest chip makers, and therefore likely to be well-informed about Microsoft’s plans.

“With the Windows 10 launch at the end of July, we’re watching, sort of the impact of that on the back-to-school season,” Su said in response to a question from an industry analyst.

Microsoft had already said that it intended to launch Windows 10 in the “summer”, but had not given a more specific date.

Windows 10 was first announced in April 2014 and is currently in public beta testing, with Microsoft having now confirmed that this will be the last-ever version of the Windows operating system.

Unlike with previous versions, there will not be a separate Windows Phone 10 operating system. Instead, Windows 10 will be used across all Microsoft devices, including desktops, laptops, tablets, smartphones – as well as the Xbox games console and HoloLens, Microsoft’s new wireless holographic headset. Windows 10 could also enable users to manage devices and appliances across their home.

However, Microsoft revealed at their recent Build developer conference that release of Windows 10 would be staggered across other devices, following the PC launch.

There will be a single store to buy software from, with developers only needing to write it once for all devices.

A new feature called Continuum means people using Windows 10 with a mouse and keyboard will see the new system in a classic desktop mode, but switching to a tablet or smartphone will see it transform into touchscreen mode.

Microsoft has also brought back the Start Menu, which was ditched in Windows 8 in favour of “tiles”, in the hope that it would encourage wider adoption on touchscreen devices.

However, the resizable tiles still feature in Windows 10, appearing when users open the Start Menu and signalling new emails and social media messages as well as weather information.

Microsoft hopes that the compromise between a Start menu and a tiled display will entice more people to use the operating system on tablets and mobile phones as well as desktop PCs.

The company has not yet revealed what the final operating system will look like on a smartphone, but leaked screen shots of build 10070 suggest that the “Live Tiles” will be closer together with narrow borders between them.

Rather than Internet Explorer, Windows 10 will come with a new web browser called Microsoft Edge, which allows users to annotate webpages or save them to read later.

It will also include Microsoft’s personal assistant tool Cortana – already on Windows Phone – which will pop-up with notifications and act as a search tool.

Windows 10 will be made available simultaneously in 190 countries and 111 languages. It will be free for a year for users of the previous operating systems Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows 8.1. The price for new users and after the year has yet to be confirmed.

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Windows 10 -Technical Preview

Windows 10's Coolest Features In 5 Animated GIFs

So as many of you may have heard Windows 9 will not be Windows 9. This may sound confusing or weird but Microsoft is not wanting to follow one numerical step behind Apple’s OS X. Now because Microsoft isn’t naming Windows 9 what will it be called? Well as you have read and heard about it will be called Windows 10! It was originally thought about being called Windows One to follow OneNote and OneDrive but Microsoft is breaking away from the past and because of that Windows 10 was born!

So now that we have Windows 10, you might be asking yourself… whats it going to be like and hows it going to operate? Well my friend I have an answer! Microsoft has a program called “Windows Insider” and what this program does is allows Windows lovers to download and install the technical development version of the current software listed. The program allows you to download and install the normal preview edition as well as the enterprise edition. Now just because its released for testing doesn’t mean the program is stable so when using the technical preview you may experience crashes and freezes. The preview is also only recommended for people with high experience in the Windows world and with operating system installs. So now that you have a good enough background with the program and software lets get started!

Please note before we start a few points.


  • You CANNOT boot this off a flash drive. The OS MUST be installed!
  • The program requires you to make an install disk or flash drive using the iso file provided.
  • Make a recovery disk before the install to make sure you don’t loose anything.
  • The install asks for a product key so make sure this is on hand during the install. (will be provided)
  • You will need a Microsoft account to join the program. (LINK)


  • Windows 10's Coolest Features In 5 Animated GIFs

    First, You are going to need to log on to the windows insider page and sign in (LINK)
    Next, After your signed in we have to prep your PC for the install. Go to the following links and review all the requirements. (LINK)

    To begin the download first go to the following link (LINK)
    Now that your on that page we need to write down your product key and pick what build and version you want. See figure 1
    After copying the key and deciding what version and build were using download the iso image. See figure 2
    Finally, we have to extract the ISO image to a USB.

    Figure 1
    ” alt=”” class=”imgLz frmImg ” />

    Figure 2
    ” alt=”” class=”imgLz frmImg ” />

    For this part I used unetbootin to extract the ISO image to a flash drive. The rest of this process will be based off of that software but should still be that same way for other programs.
    To start make sure you know where your ISO file is and have the location handy.
    After that start unetbootin. It may ask for permission but just say yes.
    Next, click “Diskimage.”
    Now, click the file finder tab or the “…” and import the ISO file. See figure 3.
    After you imported the ISO make sure the USB drive has been selected correctly and click “OK” to begin the extract process. This may take a while so go make yourself a sandwich. :)
    Now that you have created the USB drive open the file folder and check the drive to make sure the files are there. If they are their then continue but if they are not then repeat the this step.

    Figure 3
    ” alt=”” class=”imgLz frmImg ” />

    First, turn off the PC you want to install the OS on and then plug the USB drive in.
    Next, Turn the PC on but enter the boot loader. (key varies)
    Now that your in your boot loader click the USB drive and continue.
    After that just follow the install as if it were a normal OS install.
    Now your done!

    Hope this helps


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7 Keyboard Shortcuts Users Keep Hitting By Mistake
It happens even to the most experienced of users: the accidental keyboard shortcuts. No matter how often you use your computer, weird things can start happening when you’re going too fast, when you lean on your keyboard, and of course, when you’re cat or child decide it’s party time, and your keyboard is a dance floor/drum set. Very experienced users know how to fix each and every problem, but many of us sometime encounter a weird problem we’re not sure how to fix, mainly because we’re not sure how it happened.

Has your cat ever walked on your keyboard just for a second, causing the entire display to flip on its side? Have you ever tried typing your password over and over again, getting an error even when you were sure you’re doing it right? Have you ever tried changing your keyboard language, and managed to close the entire program you were working on by mistake? If one of these things or something similar ever happened to you or someone you know, this guide is for you.

Bookmark, save, and share with friends. Next time you’ll know what to do, and more importantly, how it happened!

My Display Is Flipped!

common keyboard mistakes

If this never ever happened to you or to anyone you know, raise your hand now. I don’t think I know anyone who hasn’t encountered this weird problem at least once. While it’s very easy to do by mistake, especially for cats and children, it’s not always easy to remember how to fix it. So how does this happen? Ctrl+Alt+Arrow Keys. When you hit this combination, no matter which arrow, your display will flip in the direction of the arrow you used. It’s pretty simple, but very disturbing when it happens by mistake.

So how do I fix it? Ctrl+Alt+”Up Arrow” will do the trick, and will restore your display to the right orientation.

This Thing Keeps Saying My Password Is Wrong!

keyboard mistakes

This one is very common, and probably the easiest one to recognize, but this list wouldn’t be complete without it. Yes, it’s the notorious CAPS LOCK, especially when trying to type in a password. Why do we need this key on the keyboard, I will never understand. Not only is it ever-present, it’s also huge, and right above the shift button. A mistake waiting to happen if I ever saw one.

When you accidently hit caps lock when just typing, it’s not so bad. When you’re typing a hidden password, though, it can turn into a disaster. I once had myself locked out of an account on a website after getting my password wrong too many times. The darn caps lock was on, and it took me way too much time to realize what was going on.

So how do I fix it? If you get your password wrong twice in a row, CHECK THE CAPS LOCK. It’s probably on.

My Num Pad Stopped Typing Numbers!

keyboard mistakes

These days, most keyboard include a number pad, even on laptops. And where there’s a num pad (and even where there isn’t, really), there’s a Num Lock button. If you’ve ever tried to use your num pad and ended up scrolling as if you were using arrows, you’ve probably turned your num lock off. The num lock button, while it’s on, makes sure your num pad outputs numbers. When it’s off, the num pad keys turn to arrows, and you’re not getting any numbers. Since it’s mostly useless, it’s very easy to hit by mistake.

So how do I fix it? This is a no brainer: Make sure your num lock is on, if you want to type numbers. Note that on some laptops, you need to use the Fn key in order to toggle num lock. When this is done by mistake, it’s even more difficult to discover what’s happened!

My Display Keeps Changing Size!

Have you ever innocently scrolled a page, only to have it become huge or tiny within seconds? This rather amusing effect is usually caused by the Ctrl key being pressed, or even stuck, while using the mouse’s scroll wheel. When you hit Ctrl and scroll, you’re actually zooming in and out of the page (very useful to know, if you haven’t been using it). You can achieve the same effect by pressing ctrl and the plus or minus buttons, whether intentionally or not.

So how do I fix it? If you’re zooming in and out and didn’t mean to do this, check your ctrl key. If you’re not actively pressing it, tap it a few times to make sure it’s not stuck, or read “Everything Has Gone Insane!!!!” further down this post.

The Arrow Keys Scroll My Entire Excel Spreadsheet!

OK, I’ll admit this one is rare, but when it does happen, it’s really annoying. Have you ever worked on an Excel spreadsheet (or some of the other rare programs that are actually affected by this), and suddenly found that the arrow keys scroll the entire spreadsheet instead of moving between cells? Something so simple, and yet it can drive a person insane when trying to get some work done. The solution to this mystery is simple: the Scroll Lock key.

Already absent from many keyboards, this key is a relic from of times past, and doesn’t really affect most of today’s software. It does, however, work in Microsoft Excel, and several other text editors. It’s function is to turn your arrow keys into scroll keys, instead of have them move the cursor.

So how do you fix it? Well, this one is simple. Turn off scroll lock!

I’m Trying To Change Language, & Weird Things Keep Happening!

keyboard mistakes

Ah, my favorite mistake, and the one that keep happening to me over and over again. If you only use an English keyboard, you’ve probably never encountered this, but anyone who had to switch between languages or layout probably knows this. Sometimes you’re trying to switch languages by pressing Alt+Shift, and when you resume typing in the other language, all sort of crazy things start happening. What’s going on?

What’s  happening is that for some reason, the keyboard didn’t catch the “shift” part of the shortcut, and only took the “alt” into account. In many programs, hitting alt is the same as opening the menus on top. When you hit alt and then a combination of letters, you can activate pretty much every function in the menu, using only the keyboard. Very useful when you actually want to do this, but not so when you only want to switch languages. I can’t count the number of times I managed to close the entire window, when I was only trying to switch languages.

(I’m not even going to go into the “typing in the wrong language” problem. I can write a whole post about this one.)

So how do I fix it? Stop for a second after hitting alt+shift; do you see the letters highlighted on the menu as seen in the screenshot? Don’t go any further. Hit escape, and then alt+shift again, this time with intention!

Everything Has Gone Insane!!!!

You’re trying to type, and weird things keep happening. Capital letters come out of nowhere, your text is randomly highlighted or disappears, and your windows keep minimizing for no apparent reason. If you’re really in trouble, you may even lock your entire computer without meaning to. And the thing keeps beeping! What’s going on?

common keyboard mistakes

Yes, the infamous sticky keys. While these could be very convenient for people who have trouble holding two keys at the same time, it’s nothing but a nuisance to anyone else. And the worse thing: they can be activated by mistake. Sticky keys make it so you don’t have to hold the shift, ctrl, alt and Win keys in order to activate their special functions. You can hit shift, let it go, and then hit a letter. You will get a capital latter.

How do you activate it? Usually by tapping on the shift button five times in a row. When you do that, a beep sounds, and the above dialog box appears. If you’re not paying attention, you might just hit yes without realizing, it is the default answer after all, and you’re stuck with sticky keys.

So how do I fix it? If you’ve managed to activate sticky keys by mistake, tapping five times on the shift button will turn them off. You won’t see a notice about it, but you’ll hear four beeps, and then a distinctive downwards beep. Sticky keys are now off!


These are most likely not the only annoying keys people hit by mistake. When writing this post, I was trying to include the most common keyboard mistakes I could think of, especially those that keep happening to me. Not being a newbie, I’m aware that if something happens to me, it can sure happen to people who don’t use a computer for their livelihood.

Is there an annoying keyboard shortcut I forgot to mention? Does something like this keep happening to you? Tell us your stories, and of course, how to fix it!

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Ninite is fast, easy, and unwanted third-party software free

The next time you want to install your favorite browser, update iTunes, or get the latest security release for Flash, do yourself a favor. Skip the vendor’s site and go straight to instead.

This cleanly designed web service offers immediate access to more than 80 programs, utilities, and runtime environments in a dozen categories. It’s completely free for personal use (a Pro version is available for businesses). Ninite will save you time, and it guarantees that you won’t have to deal with the potentially misleading dialog boxes that can result in unwanted third-party software—being installed on your machine.

Here’s how Ninite works:

You visit and click check boxes to select one or more programs from the categorized list.

When you’re finished, click the big green Get Installer button and wait while the Ninite back end builds an installer that targets the correct versions (32-bit or 64-bit, XP or Windows 7, and so on).

Download that installer, run it, and let Ninite do the work of downloading the files and silently installing them in the background. It automatically refuses any toolbars or other third-party software that the regular installer runs.

When it finishes (very quickly, in my experience), you’ll find the shortcuts to your newly installed programs on the Start menu, where you can run them and go through any required initial setup steps.

It really is that simple.

And here’s a bonus: If you save the installer and rerun it later, it will find and install any newly added updates for the apps in your selection.

I spoke with Ninite’s co-founder, Patrick Swieskowski, about the service and how it works. (If you’re curious, by the way, Swieskowski pronounces the first syllable with a soft I—nin rhymes with win. But he acknowledges that most people pronounce it with a long I, like Nine.)

Is it legal? In the arcane world of software licensing, who knows? But Ninite’s terms of serviceseem clear enough to me: “By using Ninite you certify that you have read and agree with the license agreements and restrictions of any software you install with Ninite.” As Swieskowski explained, it’s no different than hiring a friend—or the kid down the street—to set up a new PC for you.

Is it secure? I’m comfortable with the checks and balances. The installer goes out to official sites to download the code you install; Ninite doesn’t host any files on its own. Before it begins an install, it checks the digital signature of the file to ensure that its hash matches the known good version you’re expecting.

One of the most interesting Ninite options is the way it handles URLs. You can save a selection of software as a single URL, which is constructed from the names of the products. So if you want Mom to install the latest versions of Firefox, iTunes, and Skype, send her this link: When she visits that site, she gets a custom installer that sets up those three programs without any dialog boxes:

You can even use custom URLs on the fly to install single programs. You want Skype? Go to Flash? Try (or if you use Internet Explorer).

For now, Ninite  is available for Windows and Linux only, but a Mac version is in the works. Highly recommended.

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