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A Journey From Windows Phone 8.1 to Windows 10 Mobile

A couple of months back, I wrote about my jump to a Windows Phone. I haven’t regretted that jump, nor have I been lured away by the wiles of the sleek iPhone or the omnipresent Android. Outside of the occasional frustration with the lack of an app here or there, and the inability to connect to the campus eduroam (I can still connect to the regular UMass network perfectly fine), my experience with using a Windows Phone has been great. But even as I started my journey with a Windows Phone only half a year ago, the platform is already evolving in a big way.

During the development of Windows 10, Microsoft has had a new ideal in mind: The unification of its desktop/laptop, tablet, and mobile systems into a single operating system, able to morph between the three architectures with ease. Although Microsoft’s biggest share in these three architectures lies in the desktop/laptop market, it hopes that the unified system will draw people to the Windows versions of the tablet and mobile architectures. Convenience is the key for Microsoft, the hope that people will decide, “Hey, I use a laptop with Windows 10, and a Surface Pro with Windows 10, maybe I should get a Windows Phone to sync everything together?” This is where Windows Phone’s next advancement comes into play. While the desktop version of Windows 10 has been in development, so has the mobile version, in order to truly make this goal of a unified and cohesive operating system come to life. And that brings me to why I’m writing this article. We’ve tested and talked about the Windows 10 desktop preview builds, but not yet about the mobile preview builds. Without further ado, let’s get started on my exploration of the next evolution of Windows Phone, Windows 10 Mobile, or at least the latest preview build, which at the time of this article is build 10149.

Let’s start off with a warning. Testing preview builds on a phone is always risky, because of the fact that unlike testing them out on a desktop, sometimes issues can arise which can lead to your phone being unable to call or text, or in the worst case, being completely bricked. Unfortunately for me, the combination of not having a secondary phone to test preview builds on, and an unrelenting curiosity, led me to install the latest build on my main phone. The installation process was simple enough, I just had to install the Windows Insider app and let it download and install the latest Windows 10 mobile preview build. After the phone restarted, I watched the animated gears turn away for what seemed like an eternity, but in reality maybe a half an hour. Eventually however, everything finished and I saw Windows 10 Mobile for the first time. Let’s dive into what I saw, and what my experience was like.

Stability

I haven’t tested out the earlier preview builds of Windows 10 Mobile, but from the reviews I had read, they weren’t exactly the most stable. Some of them had rare, but phone-breaking bugs that would scare away regular beta testers due to the risk you’d be taking by installing the build on your phone. Bugs were galore, crashes happened everywhere, and sometimes you were barely able to even install the build! This build however, it seems things have gotten a lot better. Right after I first installed the build, I made sure to reset my phone so that I wouldn’t have any lingering issues due to upgrading from 8.1, and it’d pretty much be a fresh installation (similar to how you’d reinstall a desktop preview build from an ISO to have a clean, fresh start). I’m happy to say that in my couple of days of using it so far, I haven’t run into any major issues. Unlike some previous builds, there haven’t been any unexpected total phone crashes or restarts. Apps generally run pretty smoothly, although there are places where errors will popup, or areas are unfinished (that’s to be expected of a preview build anyways). This build also runs quite fast in most places, and in some ways, it seems even faster than the old Windows Phone 8.1. Overall, I would definitely say that the stability of this build is quite good, and outside of the occasional crash of an app, things are looking very good!

Battery Life

I’ll be honest about this; It’s generally been quite atrocious. The phone that would normally last over a day on a single charge now lasts a couple of hours at max. Digging into this issue a bit has led me to believe that it might be caused by the beta Store app, so clearly this is something that needs to get worked on for the future. As a side note, I will add that I’ve been running the phone today after restarting it, and the battery usages appears normal (I haven’t opened up the beta Store app at all).

Appearance

Although many in the Windows Phone community have argued that the changes to appearance are getting rid of some of Windows Phone’s stylistic identity (like the three dot pivot style), and replacing them with visuals you’d see on more popular operating systems (like the hamburger menu), I think that so far, the changes have been quite good. The new animations are generally quite fluid, and the overall operating system, in my opinion, looks sleeker than 8.1. The only big gripe I have with the appearance at the moment –which is actually a bug– is that the bottom bar of apps, which should normally have the same accent color as the rest of the phone, has a completely different color.

I will let you judge for yourself how it looks from some of these screenshots below:

My current start screen in this preview build.

My current start screen in this preview build.

The new and improved "All Apps" page!

The new and improved “All Apps” page!

The way, way, new and improved Settings screen.

The way, way, new and improved Settings screen.

A glance at the new Microsoft browser, Edge!

A glance at the new Microsoft browser, Edge!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Apps

This preview build also comes with several revamped apps from Windows Phone 8.1. The most notable of changes, and one that carries over to the desktop builds as well, is the introduction of Microsoft Edge. Project Spartan is officially dead, and from its ashes has arisen Edge. For those who haven’t been keeping up to date with some of the changes occurring in the preview builds, both mobile and desktop, Microsoft has ditched Internet Explorer and created an entirely new web browser to better embrace modern web standards and compete with the likes of Google Chrome and Firefox. The desktop version of Edge is already quite good, but what about the mobile version? Well, I’m happy to say that it is also shaping up nicely. There are still issues with some websites not rendering correctly, and there are a couple of annoying visual glitches in the browser itself, but overall, it looks and functions quite well. The next most notable app change comes with the new Music app. If you’ve ever used the default Xbox Music app on Windows Phone 8.1, you know it’s not the best. It doesn’t offer many features, doesn’t look that great, the live tile is an ugly green color, among other things. The new Music app is a world of difference. There is a hamburger menu, yes, but the entire app just looks and feels so much better to use. I personally love using this app to browse and listen to music. However this isn’t the only app that’s been redesigned for the better. The Calendar app has also been improved to look much more sleek and streamlined. I also have to add that all of these apps carry a unified visual style, so when you’re switching between them, it doesn’t feel like you truly are, which is pretty cool. As great as they look however, they still can feel sluggish sometimes on my Lumia 930, which is currently one of the higher end spec’d Windows Phones. The beta Store app especially needs work; there are apps that give errors while attempting to update through it, and it causes a massive drain on battery life when using it. Overall, I definitely like the direction they’ve taken the apps, and I’m not as attached to the old pivot menu as other people to disagree too much with the direction.

Final Notes

My experience with this preview build has been pretty good overall. There are still a few issues with battery drain with some apps, the occasional crash of an app here and there, and a couple of visual glitches. Beyond those problems however, I think that the direction that Windows Mobile 10 is going is a good one. It has a nice blend of the traditional identity of Windows Phone with the more popular stylistic choices adopted on other phones. Oh, and let me emphasize again to Microsoft that eduroam still doesn’t work on Windows Phones.

Windows 10 Eduroam Configuration

With the release date of Windows 10 approaching (7/29/15), and with that comes good news; Windows 10 shares the same method of configuring eduroam as Windows 8 and Windows 8.1, despite the changes to the user interface. There are two methods to configure your Windows 10 device to eduroam.

Method 1 – Without XpressConnect 

  • Select the WiFi tray icon located in the bottom right corner and select “Network Settings.” The Network & Internet settings window will appear
  • eduroam1In the Network & Internet window, select Eduroam and select connect. Enter your NetID@umass.edu and your IT account password and select OK.

eduroam2

  • Accept certificates if prompted. Once complete, the device should now be configured and connected to eduroam

Method 2 – Using XpressConnect 

NOTE: At the time this article was written (6/25/2015), XpressConnect does not have a version specific for Windows 10, and the XpressConnect client will state that the current operating system is Windows 8.1. 

  • Select the WiFi tray icon located in the bottom right corner and connect to UMASS.

eduroam3

  • Open a browser and navigate to http://login.wireless.umass.edu (any other webpage will redirect to the wireless gate) and select the “Set up eduroam”

eduroam4

  • Log in using your NetID and password and then select the “Run Xpressconnect” button. Select the download link for NetworkWizardLoader.exe.

eduroam5

  • Save and run the executable, allow xpressconnect to open. Once prompted, enter your NetID and Password and follow the remaining steps for installing SecureW2 and necessary certificates.

eduroam7

  • Grant access to any User Account Control windows that appear, and once the device is connected to eduroam, xpressconnect will state that the device is now connected and what the IP address has been assigned to the device.

eduroam8


If you wish to reserve your copy of Windows 10, please visit http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/windows-10-upgrade. The upgrade is free for users with Windows 7, 8 and 8.1 and can be done from your computer at any time. Cheers!

How to set Up Boot Camp

While at UMass, you might come across a point where you will need to use specialized software that can only be used on a Windows PC. This is fine if you have a Windows computer, however this leaves people who own a Mac at a clear disadvantage. So what do you do if you have a Mac computer? A commonly used solution to this situation is BootCamp Assistant. BootCamp Assistant is a built in function in the Mac operating system that allows Mac users to install Windows alongside their OSX operating system. This program can either be found by searching “bootcamp” in spotlight, or by going to the application folder in finder, where BootCamp can be found in the utilities folder.

How it works:

BootCamp works by sectioning off an certain amount of used space in your hard-drive in order to make a full installation of Windows. This process is limited by the specs of your computer and the operating system version. Below you can find the minimal requirements needed to run BootCamp. Also you can find a list of BootCamp versions needed to install the specific windows operating system that you need.

**Side note: Before you start installing Windows on your computer, you need to make sure that you computer is up to date using Software Update. Also use the chart on this page to download updates for your Boot Camp. This update is based on the model of your computer, and some models are limited to their updates because of their specs. It may also be necessary to upgrade you computer to the latest version of OSX.

Media is not Included:

A common misconception about BootCamp is that it provides a windows operating system to install. This is not true. BootCamp will provide drivers and updates for your Windows operating system, however it will not provide the media to install the Windows operating system. It must be provided by the user. This can either be done by purchasing the product online or through Microsoft.

However if you are are either faculty, staff, or student at UMass there are some options that may be available to you for a discounted version of Windows operating system.

If you are Faculty or Student either teaching or taking a course within STEM Departments, then you are entitled to a free download of Microsoft operating systems using Microsoft Dreamspark. More information about Dreamspark and STEM qualitfications can be found here.

If you are Faculty and Staff, there is a alternative way of purchasing Microsoft products at a discounts by using the university Microsoft Campus Agreement. Information about the Microsoft Campus agreement can be found here.

Finally there is the Microsoft Through Gov Connection, which is open to all student, faculty and staff, and allows you to easily purchase copies of Microsoft products. It often gives discounts to many of the products. Click here for more information.

Running BootCamp:

Please use the youtube video below for a step by step tutorial for using BootCamp Assistant for installing Windows 7 or 8 on your Mac Device.

If you have any trouble or questions, try the links in the troubleshoot question for some answers to some frequently asked questions.

Boot Camp Versions needed to run Windows

  • Windows Vista: Home Basic, Home Premium, Business, or Ultimate, Service Pack 1 or later (Boot Camp 3)
  • Windows 7: Home Premium, Professional, or Ultimate (Boot Camp 4 or 5.1)
  • Windows 8: Windows 8 or 8.1, Windows 8 or 8.1 Pro (Boot Camp 5.1 only)

System Requirements:

To install Microsoft Windows using Boot Camp, you need the following:

  • An Internet connection
  • An administrator account in OS X to use Boot Camp Assistant
  • The keyboard and mouse or trackpad that came with your Mac (If they aren’t available, use a USB keyboard and mouse)
  • A minimum of 2 GB of RAM, 30 GB of free disk space are recommended if you are installing Windows for the first time, or 40 GB of free disk space if you are upgrading from a previous version of Windows
  • An authentic Microsoft Windows full install disc or ISO file
  • A built-in optical drive, or a compatible external optical drive is required if you are using an install disc
  • 8 GB USB storage device, or external drive formatted as MS-DOS (FAT) to install the downloaded drivers

TroubleShooting:

Frequently Asked Questions:

http://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201456

Windows 7 Frequently Asked Questions:

http://support.apple.com/en-us/HT202008

Windows 8 Frequently Asked Questions:

http://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201457

 

 

 

New Dual-Boot Android/Windows Phone

Ever wanted to have an Android phone but still be able to play Xbox Live games on mobile? Soon you’ll be able to!

An upcoming handheld developed by a Chinese company called Elephone will be able to do just that! The new phone rumored to be arriving in June will reportedly be able to dual-boot Android 5.0 and Windows 10 giving you the best of both worlds.

 

 

Although Windows phones are not nearly as common as Android devices and iPhones, they are still packed with plenty of useful features.

  • Full Microsoft Office Suite. Word, Excel and Powerpoint are included on all Windows 10 phones. The Suite will work the same on your phone as it does on your desktop with minimal compromises. Outlook and Calendar are also being revamped for 10.
  • Xbox Live gaming on your phone. Currently with the Xbox Live app you can tweak your avatar, check achievements and Gamerscore and message your friends. Using the SmartGlass app from the Windows Phone store you can navigate your Xbox dashboard, start and pause movies, and view information about your games and videos. In Windows 10 Microsoft is planning to be able to allow users to play Xbox Live games on their phones. Although the list is short Microsoft is working to integrate mobile and Xbox multiplayer capabilities.

  • More Space! When you sign up for a Microsoft Account you get 7 GB of free space on their OneDrive cloud-based storage. You can automatically sync your photos and videos to your account.  You’ll be able to able to access all your content through your Xbox on the big screen.
  • Messaging. With inline messaging you’ll be able to send text messages and Skype messages through one app. You can also resize and drag the keyboard around for more one-handed usability.
  • Cortana. Windows’ version of Siri can assist at making phone calls, texting, making calendar events and setting reminders, control alarms and music, set up directions and help you find places to go. You can ask Cortana about certain facts, ask her to check sports scores, suggest weight loss workouts, and find out how the Dow Jones did today.

With the dual-OS option you’ll be able to access all those great features and at the same time run Android Lollipop which has a whole slew of unique features itself:

  • Access to the Google Play Store which contains the most mobile apps ( over 1.3 million) compared to the iOS app store, Amazon Appstore and Windows Phone store. You can also download movies, books, and music.
  • Full integration of Google Services. Out of the box Android phones come equipped with apps like Gmail, Maps, Play Music, Hangouts, YouTube and Google Drive. It’s handy having everything in one Google folder on the home screen.
  • Google Now. Although originally a Google Search application, Now can do everything Cortana and Siri can do. Google has announced that they will also begin supporting third party applications such as Pandora, Duolingo and Lyft, among others.
  • Open Source. It’s easier to design and program applications for Androids as they are written using the Java coding language. There is a lot of documentation out there and free programs where one can learn to develop mobile applications.

Elephone is planning on releasing two phones, one just with Android and the second with the dual boot capabilities. Both versions will have large 5.5-inch 2K displays (1440 x 2560), 4 GB of RAM and 32 GB of built in storage. There will also be a a battery reported to exceed 3800 mAh  For reference, the Samsung Galaxy S5 has a 2800 mAh battery and advertised for 21 hours of talk time.

There are slight differences in the 2 handhelds as the Android version of the phone will contain a 64-bit octa-core processor while the dual-OS phone will only contain a quad-core chip. Also, the Android-only handset will come with a 21MP camera while the dual version will only be 20.7MP. Both are expected to also come with fingerprint scanners.

If you, like myself, have been used to the Android interface but want to see what’s different or special about the mobile Windows OS you’ll be able to get both without sacrificing anything. Elephone is already popular outside of the United States for making affordable Androids so it’ll be interesting to see if they make any impact in the US market.

Google’s Chromecast: Turn your TV into a Smart TV

What is it?

Google’s Chromecast is currently the best-selling Electronic product on Amazon, and there’s a good reason why. People have been looking for the quickest and cheapest way to get content from the services they subscribe to their TV’s. Although there are gaming consoles, and set-top boxes that achieve this, Chromecast’s a little different. It’s a simple HDMI dongle, in a shape similar to a USB Drive. All it needs to operate is some USB power, which most TV’s can already provide via their USB servicing port and a connection to a wireless network, which in the age of everything wireless, many people are apt to have.

Continue reading

Virus Prevention

As a general rule of thumb, there are some things that are good to do to keep your computer running its best.

  1. Keep everything up to date!
  2. Don’t click links you’re unsure about.
  3. Don’t visit questionable websites.
  4. Run an anti-virus program.
  5. Scan with an anti-virus program and an anti-spyware program at least once a month.

Keeping programs up to date is one of the easiest ways to prevent a Virus or Spyware infection. Windows XP, Vista, and Mac OS X will all prompt you to install updates if you have it configured to do so. It is configured as such by default.

As for updating all the other programs installed, we use a program called Secunia PSI. It scans your computer for all the programs installed that it has in its database. It then checks it against the current versions of those programs and provides you with links to where to download updates. You can download it here. It’s an amazing tool to know what to update.

As a general rule, you should keep your Operating System (XP, Vista, OSX) as well as Java and Adobe Flash Player up to date. Those are the most common ways viruses and spyware can gain access to your computer.

As a rule of thumb, don’t click on links to suspicious websites. In many programs, you can mouse over the link to see the HTTP address. Just remember to air on the side of caution.

Don’t go to suspicious sites.  If you’re not sure about the site, try searching Google for it.  If a lot of hits come up like “Spyware, removal of spyware, virus related” etc, don’t go to that site.  Also, if you had gotten a virus in the past from a questionable website, don’t go to that website again.

Run an anti-virus program.  This should be really easy for people affiliated with UMass.  UMass has a site license for McAfee Enterprise Virus Scan.  You can get it on the OIT website here.  If you have an older version of McAfee Enterprise Virus Scan installed, uninstall it first.  It might cause weird errors to occur if installing just over the older version.  Also, if you have any other anti-virus programs installed, you should only have one installed.  You shouldn’t have more that one anti-virus program installed, as they tend to fight each other and slow everything down.  Uninstall all but one anti-virus program.

The last way to protect yourself is to run full scans with your anti-virus and anti-spyware software once per month, whether you think you need it or not.  Think of it like an oil change for your car.  It cleans out all the sludge that may build up, whether you see it or not.  If you have the version of McAfee Enterprise Virus Scan distributed from the OIT site mentioned above, McAfee will update itself every day, and run a full scan in the background once a week.  You should also run a full scan once a month with your anti-spyware software of your choice.  We use Spybot Search and Destroy, which can be found here.

I Hate Change or: the Dangers of Getting Attached to Applications and Operating Systems

Change can be difficult. When you’ve invested time and energy in learning something new, especially something as complicated as an operating system (e.g. Windows 98, Windows XP, Mac OS 9), it can be quite frustrating to be told that you should upgrade to something new. Waiting a little while to perform upgrades is actually a good idea. As any early adopter of Windows Vista can tell you, making the switch from Windows XP was extremely painful because there were many kinks to work out of Vista. However, with a few years under its belt, Vista is, arguably, a more secure operating system.

Of course, many users still prefer Windows XP, which is okay, but users need to stay extra vigilant. Hanging on to an older application or operating is fine until the developer stops supporting it and providing updates. This is the case with operating systems such as Windows 98 and Mac OS 9. When, this happens it is important to upgrade! This means switching to any new version of an application or operating system. For example, an upgrade from Windows 2000 could be any version of Windows XP or any version of Windows Vista. An upgrade for Adobe Acrobat Reader would be from Version 8 to Version 9. Upgrades often add new features to software

Updates are different from upgrades in that they work to fix existing problems in software. They are important because they help keep your application or operating system secure. When you apply updates to Windows or Mac OS X, you are improving the security and stability of your computer. Here are some advantages of performing updates:

  1. Bug Fixes: No one is perfect. When a programmer develops an application and distributes it to users, there are often “bugs” waiting to be found. Bugs are simply unexpected situations that cause programs to crash or malfunction. Programs are not smart. They do what they are programmed to do and handle situations that they are programmed to handle. Programmers try to think about all the sorts of things that could go wrong when an application is running in the real world by giving users error messages or warnings. (e.g. If a program asks a user for a date in the format MM/DD/YYYY and the user types in YYYY/MM/DD, the program will ask the user to type the information in correctly.) However, sometimes there are problems which programmers don’t consider. When an application runs into these situations, it could crash, malfunction (i.e. appear to be working correctly, but really processing information incorrectly. This is especially dangerous because users don’t know that something has gone wrong!) Updates often fix these “bugs.”
  2. Security: Bugs can leave your operating system or application open to attack. A bug can be exploited by a virus or an attacker to do bad things to your files or even turn your computer into a zombie computer! Zombie computers can be used to attack other computers, send out spam messages, and even delete or ransom your files.
  3. Improvements: Many developers like getting user input. When they come out with a new version or update for a program, they often add new features which will make the program more useful or usable.

The main reasons to perform upgrades are:

  1. To take advantage of new features. Upgrades often change how existing features work or offer new features altogether.
  2. Your current application / operating system is no longer supported. When your program or operating system is no longer supported by the developer, they will no longer patch the program to ensure that it remains secure. When this happens, it’s important to take the step to upgrade to a supported version of the application or operating system.

The moral of the story is: keep yourself up-to-date to keep yourself sane and your computer secure. OIT Software Support suggests that you use a program called Secunia PSI if you run Windows. Secunia PSI will scan all the programs on your computer and will tell you which ones are out-of-date. It will then show you what to do to update them.

As always, if you have any questions, please call OIT Help Services at 413.545.9400.

The Importance of Updates: A Parable

When I assist clients at our front desk, I try to explain the importance of updating operating systems (e.g. Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, Linux.) Many clients don’t realize that updates are vital to the continued security of computers; you can’t just ignore them. So, to explain what they do, I came up with a fun analogy.

Your computer is like a medieval city with a great wall. The people who designed your city (programmers) want to protect it from from barbarian invasions (virus and malware attacks.)  When they built your city, they erected a giant wall around it for protection (a firewall.) When you started to rule it, you hired a bunch of guards ( you installed anti-virus software.) However, the architects weren’t perfect; there are many small holes in your wall and forgotten tunnels into the city (security holes.) As the architects inspect the city over time, they find these holes and tunnels. Engineers are dispatched around to patch up these holes (Windows Updates) so as to keep your city safe.

The moral of the story: lest the barbarians break in, kill all your guards, and then use your city to attack others, make sure that you install software updates!

Sometimes, you forget to patch the holes in your city or the barbarians find them first. When this happens, you can come to OIT Software Support. Like knights in shining armour, we will happily drive out the barbarians (remove viruses), restore order (fix the problems they created), and give you new and free guards (McAfee AntiVirus.) We’ll also give you advice on how to prevent future invasions; the barbarians are clever.

While all software should be updated, it can be difficult to keep track of it all. There is a program called Secunia PSI. This program will check just about every program on your computer to ensure that it is up-to-date.

If you don’t wish to install Secunia PSI, the most important things to keep updated are the following:

As always, feel free to contact OIT Help Services if you have any questions!

“Conficker Worm Could Create World’s Biggest Botnet”

I saw this article on Slashdot today and wanted to warn everyone out there. Nine million infected computers running Microsoft systems is an incredible amount of machines compromised.

Make sure your McAfee Enterprise is up to date and your Windows machine has installed all the latest updates!

As the article states, the worm propagates through un-patched Windows systems and through USB thumb-drives. This means that having a secure system or up-to-date virus protection is NOT ENOUGH! You need a combination of both. This is good computer usage in practice anyway, but we see an incredible amount of un-patched XP and Vista systems come in with virus infections.

What you see when an infected USB-drive is plugged-in

What you see when an infected USB-drive is plugged-in

The above image shows what happens when you plug-in an infected USB-stick into a machine. Notice the “Publisher not Specified,” text in gray under the open option? That should be your first clue right there. Do NOT click on this, as this will launch the virus and infect your computer.

It’s just that little yellow icon in your system tray, that little place with icons by the time in the bottom left. Click – Express Install – Done. It’s really that simple.

For those that are interested, the Microsoft Security Bulletin can be read here.

The Blue Screen of Death ( BSOD ) in Windows

A Blue Screen of Death - From the Wikimedia Commons

A Blue Screen of Death - From the Wikimedia Commons

You will see a distinct look of fear in the eyes of anyone who has used Microsoft Windows when you mention a ‘BSOD’ or ‘Blue Screen of Death’. Sometimes they occur a single time and then go away, but other times they will recur every time that you restart the computer.

When this happens to you, there are a few things to try:

  • If your computer restarts in an endless loop and you can’t tell why, hit the F8 key repeatedly, about once a second, just as the computer starts to reboot.
  • You will get a menu that looks something like this:
The Safe Mode selection screen for Windows Vista

The Safe Mode selection screen for Windows Vista

  • Select the option entitled, “Disable automatic restart on system failure.”
  • Next time that you get the BSOD, it won’t restart automatically and you can then acquire useful information for troubleshooting the problem.
  • When you get the BSOD, copy down the complete STOP CODE which is formatted like so:
    • STOP: 0x00000000 (0x00000000, 0x00000000, 0x00000000, 0x00000000)
  • The first set of numbers (in blue) can be entered into Google or the Microsoft Knowledge Base.

You can then sometimes get useful information for fixing the problem. If nothing else, copy down the error numbers to bring to OIT Software Support. Other useful information includes the hardware (e.g. mouse, monitor, printers, scanners, USB devices) attached to the computer and the programs you remember running. The more contextual information we have, the easier it will be to solve a problem!

How to delete the Windows Antivirus virus

If you have seen this screen then you know what virus I am referring to.

Here in Software Support, we use a program called ComboFix that you can download yourself by clicking here. This software will clean up most instances of this known type of virus called “Smitfraud,” and will generally leave your system much more operable than before. Recently, the number of outbreaks of this virus and ones like it have become staggering.

This software changes daily and must be downloaded every time it is run! The best way to do this is to download it on a computer that is clean and copy it over onto a USB pen drive.

Usually at Software Support there is a lull in the middle of the semester, but last fall the amount of traffic into SWS was something that I have never seen in my four years of working here.

If you feel that your computer is not running correctly, or if you think that the error messages that are popping up are not from your normally installed anti-virus or anti-spyware software, this should be your first step in alleviating the problem.

Of course, if you are having issues running the software or are not comfortable doing this, you can bring the computer in and we will run it for you.

AIM Viruses

Many users are curious as to how their systems are infected with viruses. While there are many different ways that this can happen, one common method is via something called an AIM virus. Sent as messages over AIM or other instant messaging clients (e.g. MSN Messenger, AIM, GTalk), users receive an instant message saying something like, “Check out these pictures of you I found on Facebook (Myspace, Flickr, etc.)” When a user clicks on the link, their computer is infected with a virus which subsequently sends similar messages to all the buddies on their contact list. Currently, only Windows users are affected by AIM viruses, but all users should be wary of links that they receive.

It is important to double check with friends who send you links over AIM. You can always send a message back saying, “Hey! Did you just send me a link about pictures on Facebook? I know that viruses can look like links from people on my buddy list.” If you are unsure, it’s best to discard the link.

Getting an AIM virus can slow down your computer dramatically. Additionally, if OIT detects that your computer is trying to infect others, you may lose your Internet connection until the virus is removed. Depending on the virus that infects your computer, it is possible to get other infections.

To remove an AIM virus, you can try a fantastic little program called AIMFix, a tool developed by Jay Loden. However, in some cases, the infection may have advanced to such a point where AIMFix will not be able to remove all the viruses. Members of the UMass community can download and install McAfee Virusscan Enterprise for free from the OIT website. Just make sure that you uninstall any other antivirus programs that you have (e.g. Norton Internet Security, McAfee Security Center, AVG, Trend Micro); multiple antivirus programs can conflict and slow down your computer. If this doesn’t help or you have other questions, you can always call OIT for more assistance.