When Vista will not boot…

Today, it happened; Vista would not boot…

Many Vista users experiencing this type of issue are often left to performing a “complete” and “time-consuming” system recovery using the recovery software allocated on a disk partition by the manufacturer or on recovery discs that you may have created. Most manufacturers do not provide a “real” physical copy (retail version) of Windows Vista on DVD…  The problem with this is that the “real” Windows Vista DVD has a “recovery environment” that you can boot into that attempts to “fix” your system, when it will not startup properly.  The “recovery environment” does not reinstall Vista; it is merely a tool designed to try and fix Vista.  If you are a Vista user, and do not have an original Windows Vista DVD, there is a solution to this problem. “The NeoSmart Files” web site has been hosting a downloadable version of the Windows Vista Recovery Disc, since January ‘08, which you can burn to a CD (approximately 120 MB in the ISO format). You can visit the site by clicking on the logo.

The NeoSmart Files

This CD actually saved me a whole lot of headaches today… 

My Vista box would not boot and I suspected corrupted startup files. One of my first troubleshooting options was to boot into the “recovery environment” using the CD that I created (earlier in the year) from “The NeoSmart Files” website.  After booting from the CD, I was eventually presented with various recovery options; one being “startup repair”. After selecting that option, the utility corrected the issue(s) I was experiencing and my system startup returned to normal. If I did not have this CD, as a diagnostic option, I most likely would have resintalled the operating system via an image I had made OR performed a recovery via the computer manufacturer’s option. Either way, there was risk of possibly losing file data. 

Instructions for creating and using the CD…

If terms like “ISO format” and “Creating a CD” are hindering you, I encourage you to visit “TechRepublic – Creating a Windows Vista Recovery CD”  for “step-by-step” instructions, on the entire process from downloading/creating the recovery CD to actual screenshots of the recovery process. You can visit the site by clicking on the logo.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)…

For FAQ’s (frequently asked questions) about Windows’s Vista startup repair, click on the Microsoft Windows Logo below.

Windows Vista Recovery - FAQ's

Additional Note…

If you do not have the original Windows Vista DVD, I highly recommend that you get this download from “The NeoSmart Files”. During the writeup of this article, I learned that when Windows Vista SP1 (Service Pack 1) was in beta, Microsoft actually included the option to make the recovery environment CD.  After Vista SP1 (Service Pack 1) came out of beta, Microsoft pulled the option from the operating system… 


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The Malware Evolution…

While conducting research on computer malware, I happened across an article at ‘howstuffworks -10 Worst Computer Viruses of All Time” (by Jonathan Strickland).  I was very impressed with the article and decided to summarize, in a table format (see below), the ten worst computer viruses of all time (based on the information from that article), in an effort to demonstrate how malware is evolving. You can read the full article on the “10 Worst Computer Viruses of All Time”, by clicking on the “howstuffworks” logo at the bottom of the page.

Another source of information that blends in well with this topic, is an article posted at Tech-for Everyone, “A Brief History – Holiday Edition”, that provides a short history on who wrote the first true virus, the evolution of viruses; and how virus and malware protection has led to a $38 billion industry.  I recently communicated with the author (known as TechPaul) and he made the following “real world” statement, that demonstrates how the malware evolution is affecting people on a personal level.

“As a Help and Support tech, I see (and repair) the damage done by malware everyday, and it is no joke. I have talked with folks who were forced to buy new machines due to rootkit and firmware infections. I have talked with people who have spent time rebuilding their credit after their “identity” was stolen.” –TechPaul

In conclusion, the objective of this article is to display the timeline and evolution of viruses (aka: malware) and to impress upon my readers the importance of keeping your security and system software up to date.  Malware has evolved from what you are seeing in this table to include thousands of variations of computer viruses, worms, trojan horses, rootkits, spyware, dishonest adware, crimeware and other malicious and unwanted software.   The motivation in the past was more idealistic; whereas, today the motivation is money.




MS-Word Macro; Propagated via email attachment; When opened: sent itself out to the top 50 people in the recipient’s e-mail address book.




Standalone Program; Worm; Propagated via email attachment; Subj:  Love Letter from a Secret Admirer, Attachment: LOVE-LETTER-FOR-YOU.TXT.vbs; When opened: wide range of attacks.




Propagated via Email message; Spoofing; Replicated itself; Sent itself to people in recipient’s address book; Some variations rendered a persons computer inoperable.


Code Red


Worm; Propagated via Internet; Exploited vulnerability in operating system (buffer overflow); distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack on the White House.




Nimda is “Admin” backwards; Worm; Propagated via the Internet & Email (very quickly); Primary target: Internet Servers; Purpose: To bring the internet to a crawl.


SQL Slammer / Sapphire


Propagated via Internet; Attacked Web Servers; Took down unprepared infrastructure systems; Caused $1 Billion plus in damage; Victims infected within seconds after initial launch.




Propagated via email; Created backdoor in victim’s computer; Had two triggers: Caused Denial of Service Attack and second trigger commanded the virus to stop distributing itself on Feb. 12, 2004; Replicated via email addresses on victim’s PC; Second outbreak caused search engines to come to a crawl.


Sasser and Netsky


Worm; Propagated via internet; Attacked computer through a Microsoft vulnerability; Scanned random IP’s for victim computers; Virus created by 17 year old German programmer.




Infected Apple Mac’s PC’s; Propagated via instant messaging (iChat); Caused little harm; Demonstrated that Mac PC’s can be vulnerable as well.


Storm Worm


Progated via email and fake links; Trojan Horse; Original had email subj line: “230 dead as storm batters Europe”; Can turn PC into “zombies” or “bots”; Vulnerable to remote control by attacker.


clipped from computer.howstuffworks.com


10 Worst Computer Viruses of All Time

by Jonathan Strickland


Computer viruses can be a nightmare. Some can wipe out the information on a hard drive, tie up traffic on a computer network for hours, turn an innocent machine into a zombie and replicate and send themselves to other computers. If you’ve never had a machine fall victim to a computer virus, you may wonder what the fuss is about. But the concern is understandable — according to Consumer Reports, computer viruses helped contribute to $8.5 billion in consumer losses in 2008 [source: MarketWatch]. Computer viruses are just one kind of online threat, but they’re arguably the best known of the bunch.

Computer virus


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An “Adobe PDF Reader” Replacement…

When with think of “PDF” files, we think “Adobe” …  Adobe created the PDF file format (Portable Document Format), in 1993, which became a standard format for document exchange.  In order to view PDF files you need a PDF reader.  The Adobe PDF Reader is the software most people have installed on their computers.  Since the inception of the Adobe PDF Reader it has grown into a large application that has become burdensome to the user and to the computer. 

There is another option and it is called “Foxit Reader” …  It is “FREE”, small in file size, super fast, and it is continually being improved upon.  According to their web site there are 50 million users all around the world.  Another nice option with this reader is that there is a “portable” version (zip file) that can be installed on your flash drive.  I have been using Foxit for approximately 2.5 years and it has never let me down.

clipped from www.foxitsoftware.com

Foxit Software

Foxit Reader 3.0 for Windows

An exclusive small and fast PDF Reader!

As a small and fast PDF viewer, Foxit Reader currently has over 50 million users all around the world. After keeping users waiting for almost two months, Foxit Reader 3.0 has been released and introduces many fascinating new features such as multimedia design and Foxit OnDemand Content Management. To learn more about this new release, please click here


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A Windows “Paint” Replacement…

I never could figure out why Microsoft would build an operating system, that is the premier operating system of the world, then include in that operating system some really poor programs (such as notepad, wordpad, paint, calculator). The freeware and open source authors have put those programs to shame… 

One replacement program that I use to replace “Paint”, is a program called “Paint.net”. Paint.net is a FREE program that originally started out as an undergraduate college senior design project mentored by Microsoft (years ago).  Some of the former students (alumni) who originally worked on the development of the software, continue to maintain it today. I can remember trying this program when it first was available on the internet and shrugged it off.  I recently went back to it and found it has grown into one powerful, yet easy to use, image and photo editing program. I surely hope that the development cycle of Paint.net continues, as it is at a stage where it is rivaling other photo editing and paint programs.

Paint.net - Main Window

(as stated on the web site)

Simple, intuitive user interface


Unlimited History

Support for many popular file formats

Effects and Adjustments

Full Support for Dual- and Quad-Core CPU’s, and 64-bit

Tablet PC Support



Features planned for version 4.0 include an improved install and update experience, lower memory requirements, increased performance,  a totally revamped “brush” system, layer masks, and adjustment layers. The improvements to the data model and rendering engine will also enable features such as text layers, effect layers, composite layers, and soft selections.

Get It from Download.com

GET IT HERE - Paint.net



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Extensive List of “FREE” Privacy, Security and Recovery Software…

I periodically visit the Wilder’s Security Forum to see what other people are saying about the various security software products that are available.  Forums are managed discussion sites where interest groups of people are formed to openly discuss a specific topic.  When I preview software, I always look to see if there is a forum on the site.  Forums are excellent information resources and can give you a good overview on the credibility of a matter or subject.

Wilder's Security Forum

Recently while visiting the Wilder’s Security Forum, I was reviewing a topic titled “Probably the best Security List in the World : )”…  The title caught my attention and as a result I came away with, what I feel, are (2)-two credible lists of “FREE” Security Software that I would like to share.

The first list is maintained at another forum located at a Finnish Antivirus Portal (called Virustorjunta.net).  The category titles are in Finnish; however, the sub-titles of the software are in English.  You can preview this list by clicking on the logo below.


The second list is located at another forum called Respawned.  This forum appears to be maintained in the United Kingdom and it appears that the forum topic “Freeware Privacy, Security and Recovery Software”  has been updated on regular basis since April ‘04.  You can preview this list by clinking on the logo below.


Both of these lists provide an excellent overview of the various “FREE” products that are available AND provide a great opportunity to explore and research security software in a “side-by-side” manner.  The people who contributed to compiling this information has done a great service to those who are unfamiliar with security software products.  The forums which they have made these postings is an excellent way to get feedback, criticism and praise.  

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Capture.net – The Swiss Army Knife of PC Tools!

If you are a software (utility) fanatic, as I am, then you will appreciate “Capture.Net – The Swiss Army Knife of PC Tools!” This utility is what I call a “software gadget” and is geared toward users who like having a multitude of useable tools, all in one package. You have to be a “software geek” to appreciate this utility. It is unique in the aspect that it is small in file size (688KB) and is a standalone application (download and run). It does however require the .Net Framework. There is a “FREE” version (which I used for this review) and a “PAID” version available.  Upon running Capture.Net, I felt like I was on an Easter egg hunt.  The more I looked, the more I found.  I still do not think I found everything packaged into this utility; but, reflected is a list of built in apps that I did find:


Capture Screen // Image Editor // Screen Calendar // Post-It Notes // Screen Clock // Alarm Clock // Synchronize Time // World Clock // Timer// Quick Launch (Run) //Screen Ruler // Capture Color // Degree measure // Privacy Eraser (Custom) // System Info // System Tweak / IE Tweak // Font Viewer // Windows Spy // Converter: CHM->HTM // Convert Image // Text Format // Backup Expert


GET IT HERE - Capture.net



The World’s Best Selling Book…

Did you know that the Bible is the best-selling single volume book (every year)? It is estimated that approximate sales of the Bible has been in the range of 2.5 billion to 6 billion. The Bible consists of 66 books that is divided into (2)-two sections: Old Testament (39 books) and New Testament (27 books). The basis of the Old Testament is an account of God’s creation of and direct relationship with mankind, prior to the life of Jesus. The basis of the New Testament is an account of the life and teachings of Jesus and his disciples and the book of revelation. 

If you are someone that is interested in reading and studying the Bible, there are many “FREE” options available through the use of software and the internet. You can click on any of the logos below to learn about the options that I use and recommend.

In The Beginning Was The Word

In The Beginning Was The Word

Multiple Bible translations in many languages with full support & handling for Greek texts 

Unique Parallel view of multiple translations at once

Personal notes for each verse, chapter, book and subject accompanied with an easy way to categorize them hierarchically

Verse lists with full drag & drop support for their creation

Really fast searching with filters and a full “regular expressions” engine

Formatting and colouring directly on Bible texts

Easiest navigation of the Bible ever: 3 different ways to go to the verse you want (Bible tree, clever menu, free text)

Multiple Bible windows (even multiple parallel ones) freely arrangeable by simple drag & dock!

Unique “Clipboard monitor” function (monitors your clipboard for verse references and displays them as tool-tips in ALL programs)

Keyboard shortcuts for every function

Copy verses in many formats, fully customizable

Really fast in loading, displaying texts, searching and in every click of the mouse

There is also a beta version available.  I currently have the beta installed and have found it to be very functional.




“e-Sword is a fast and effective way to study the Bible. e-Sword is feature rich and user friendly with more capabilities than you would expect in a free software package.”




Free “online” service for reading and researching Scripture online–all in the language or translation of your choice! Advanced tools are provided that you can use to search the Bible by keywords or verse, as well as other tools to enhance your study of the Bible.

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