Is Low Memory Slowing Down Your Computer?

Like your brain, a computer works better when there’s plenty of memory available to execute tasks and process information. So let’s see how we can address a low-memory situation before it becomes a real problem…

Where Has All My Memory Gone?

Let’s try another analogy. Running low on RAM memory in your computer feels a lot like running low on gas in your car. The machine slows down dramatically; moves in starts and stops, jerkily; and eventually just stalls. Just as it’s best to heed the early warning signs of low gas, it’s easier to recover from the early stages of “low RAM” than from a complete lock-up of your computer. Here’s a tool that will shed some light on how your computer is using the RAM memory available.

Windows has a built-in Resource Monitor app that can track RAM use, quantify the effect that low RAM is having on your system, and help you determine what is chewing up that valuable resource. To start the app, type “resmon” in the Start menu search box and double-click on the app in search results. Click on the “Memory” tab to display a busy screen full of information. (See image below)

In the right-hand sidebar are three real-time graphs of memory parameters. “Physical memory” refers to Random Access Memory (RAM), the solid-state memory on those little black chips you can replace to expand your system’s total RAM.

“Commit charge” is a cryptic term whose origin is lost in the misty dawn of the Windows era. Just think of it as the percentage of pagefile.sys that is being used at a given moment. (Pagefile.sys is a system file that reserves hard drive space to which data is temporarily moved from RAM to make room in RAM for other data that is needed immediately).

“Hard faults per second” is not as bad as it sounds, necessarily. It means the number of times per second that data is read from or written to the hard drive from RAM. A rate of 100 hard faults/second is no cause for alarm; a rate of 400 or more will probably be noticeable as a slowing of the system and the grinding sound of an overactive hard drive. Excessive hard faults per second lead to early drive failure at least; at worst, the system may lock up with its hard drive activity light on steadily.

In the grey “Physical Memory” bar in the middle of ResMon’s main window you can see how much RAM is in use and how much remains free. Above that bar is a table showing the many running processes that are using RAM. Here is where you can find out what, exactly, is chewing up a lot of RAM.

Click on the label “Working Set” to sort the running processes by the amount of RAM that each uses. Click on the “Image” label to sort on the process names.

If you use the Chrome browser, it’s almost certain that it will be your biggest memory-hog, with multiple instances of chrome.exe running. Closing tabs and windows will reduce Chrome’s total RAM consumption. Also, in Chrome’s Settings, you might disable “Continue running background apps when Google Chrome is closed”. Just be aware that offline apps for Google Docs, Sheets, etc., may crash when you exit Chrome if “background apps” are disabled.

In many cases, adding additional RAM memory is one of the most cost-effective upgrades for a performance boost. See my article Will More Memory Speed Up Your Computer? to find out if adding RAM is a good idea for your computing needs.

Chrome has its own Task Manager, which gives a lot more detail on each of the Chrome tasks. Press Shift-Esc from the Chrome window, and the Task Manager will show you the name of each website, app, or extension that’s active.

You could go down the list of processes in descending order of their RAM use, determining what each one does and whether it is safe to shut it down. (You can right-click an item, then select “End Process” to kill a running task.)

But few people have that much time, technical knowledge, or patience. Windows has a pretty good memory management system built right into it, so it’s unlikely that you are going to recover much more RAM by manual efforts. Just leave things be, except for the Chrome tweaks described above.

Oh, and for the sake of fairness, I used Internet Explorer and Firefox to replicate what I was doing this morning in the Chrome browser. After opening the same 9 tabs spread across two windows, I noted that the amount of RAM memory in use with Internet Explorer and Google Chrome, and Firefox was almost the same. So the bottom line might be that ALL browsers are memory hogs.

Well-written software frees the RAM that was reserved for it and its data when it shuts down. Sketchy freeware may not be so well behaved. Look especially hard at such software to see if the amount of physical memory available after it shuts down is about the same as it was just before the software started. If a program is “leaking” RAM, replace it with better-behaved software.

Have a great week from all of us at ZoHa Islands

 

SLB15 Meet the Lindens – Follow Up and Summary

Promotional poster for Meet the Lindens at SL15B. Credit: Linden Lab
It was most definitely interesting to sit in and listen to what each Linden who spoke had to say.  From learning about the future of Second Life, to the everyday workings behind the scenes,  I have found an article written by Inara Pey – that summed everything up beautifully- that I would like to take the time to pass on – she is a wonderful source of inspiration and news in second life – give her a follow!

Until next year!

Credits: Inara Pey

Meet the Lindens is now a regular part of the Second Life anniversary landscape. Over the course of the week of celebrations, it gives Second Life users the chance to find out more about the people working at Linden Lab, find out about projects and plans, and the work being carried out on Second Life and Sansar, ask questions about matters of interest / concern to them.

For Meet the Lindens 2018, Saffia Widdershins sat down with six members of the Second Life team, and also with Linden Lab CEO, Ebbe Altberg.

The six SL team members attending the sessions were:

  • Xiola Linden (Community team)
  • Brett Linden (Marketing)
  • Keira Linden (Land team) and Patch Linden (Snr Director of Product Operations)
  • Grumpity Linden (Director of Product for Second Life) and Oz Linden (Technical Director for Second Life).

Each of the sessions was recorded by SL4Live and made available through YouTube as a part of the SL15B sessions.

For those who prefer to read about what was said, I have produced this set of summary articles of the different sessions.

Please note that these are not intended as full transcripts; some topics came up more than once through the week, so I have tried to focus on subjects that were answered in the greatest detail within each session.

Audio extracts are included with each summary. These have been edited to remove pauses, repetitions, etc., with care taken to maintain the overall context of comments and answers.

The full video for each session is also embedded with each summary for completeness, and timestamps are included for each of the topics in a summary, and will open the relevant video in a separate browser tab, at the point at which the topic is discussed.

Table of Contents

Please use the links in the contents list to the right to jump to the topic summary that interests you, or to a specific topic within a summary.

Major Victory for Privacy Rights?

Law enforcement agents need a search warrant before they can seize a person’s historical location data stored by his cellular service provider, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) ruled on June 22, 2018. The ruling was hailed as “the most consequential privacy decision of the digital age” by the American Civil Liberties Union. Read on to learn why…

4th Amendment Lives, says Supreme Court

The case before the Court, Carpenter v. U.S., involved a suspected burglar who was convicted based upon months’ worth of location data obtained from his phone company without a warrant. The data gave the FBI nearly perfect knowledge of where Timothy Carpenter went, what he did, who he associated with, and more. Indeed, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the majority’s decision,

“(W)hen the Government tracks the location of a cell phone it achieves near perfect surveillance, as if it had attached an ankle monitor to the phone’s user.”

The Court rejected the government’s long-successful argument that when a person voluntarily lets a third party store data about him, the 4th Amendment does not protect him from the warrant less seizure of that data from the third party. This legal doctrine was established in the mid-70s. Today’s ruling, the details of which can be read at SCOTUSBlog, recognized that times and tech have changed dramatically.

“There is a world of difference between the limited types of personal information addressed” by the old dogma, “and the exhaustive chronicle of location information casually collected by wireless carriers today,” the decision reads. Forty years ago, “few could have imagined a society in which a phone goes wherever its owner goes, conveying to the wireless carrier not just dialed digits, but a detailed and comprehensive record of the person’s movements.”

The Court ruled that the vast amount of location data the FBI collected from Carpenter’s phone company – over 13,000 data points spanning several months of his activities – painted such an intimate and extensive picture of his personal life that it deserved the 4th Amendment’s protection against warrant less seizure. Therefor the location data could not be used to prosecute Carpenter.

The Carpenter ruling applies only to location data collected and stored by a cellular service provider. But the Court’s reasoning will be applied to a virtually limitless range of cases in which third parties collect and store any type of data about an individual. Armed with this decision, privacy advocates can argue that all the personal data that Facebook, Google, credit agencies, banks, et. al., collect about you is now off-limits to law enforcement unless it is obtained pursuant to a valid warrant issued by a court.

The 4th Amendment and Limiting Factors

The 4th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

Note that the Court did not overturn the third-party doctrine outright. Instead, the Court decided that there must be a limit to the scope of personal data obtainable without a warrant, and that it was clearly exceeded in Carpenter’s case. Future rulings may decide that the government can use one data point, or a day’s worth of data points, or some other measure of data’s scope, without obtaining a warrant.

The limiting factor seems to be, “Does the scope of data collected amount to invasion of the person’s privacy?” If, for example, Carpenter’s location data revealed that he (or his phone, at least) was regularly at a particular place at the same times a drug rehabilitation group held its meetings at the same place, it would be reasonable to infer that Carpenter was a drug addict in recovery. That inference, arguably, would be a private matter deserving of the 4th Amendment’s protection, so data which supports the inference would have to be seized pursuant to a court order that complies with the 4th Amendment’s requirements.

Yes, it’s complicated, and there are many wrinkles to be ironed out case by case. But the government’s long-standing position that “all your data are belong to us” is no longer acceptable in court. This a huge victory for privacy rights in the United States!

As for Timothy Carpenter, he may be a hero to privacy advocates, but it seems he’s no angel. A description of his role as ringleader of a gang of armed robbers can be found on this page from Findlaw.com. Carpenter was convicted and sentenced in April of 2014 to 116 years in prison, and even though he won his case at the Supreme Court, he will likely remain incarcerated.

That’s because of the “Good Faith Exception to Exclusionary Rule.” According to the Legal Information Institute, The Exclusionary Rule bars the use at trial of evidence obtained pursuant to an unlawful search. If officers had reasonable, good faith belief that they were acting according to legal authority, such as by relying on a search warrant that is later found to have been legally defective, the illegally seized evidence is still admissible under this rule.

The ACLU argued Carpenter’s case before the SCOTUS, and deserves much of the credit for this victory.

We Are Not Out Of The Woods Folks.

ARE WE SAFE? NO!

Is this limited to just your cellphone? NO!

This will take time. We need to remember our computers and tablets are vulnerable and use various Hot spot Wi-Fi /cell signals and are not protected through this act, and are open for anyone to see with the right hack or so called Court Ordered Warrant! Be careful how you share your information be secure. But in the mean time, A followup story on how to make sure your privacy is secure thru your router and electronic devices coming soon.

Have a great week

Zi Staff

ZI Business District Renovations to Begin!

Hello ZoHa Islands Business District Renters,

I’d like to start off by thanking you for being a great addition to the community we have here at ZI over the years. Its been awhile since the Business District has been set, and its time for a makeover! The 12 region estate there will be undergoing some construction, new roads systems, landscaping, teraforming, and completely redone to attract more businesses, homes, etc by giving it more dimension and appeal. In addition to this we will be monitoring the regions for quality builds and ensure the regions maintain a quality standard we envision for our business district with an end product resulting in a place that people want to be, see and explore! …Thus leading more prospective patrons to your establishments.

We would love as we move forward with the project (which is to be completely overhauled by mid July 2018) to see you all get creative and add to the beauty of the project, each location will have foot traffic access and we also have a wonderful array of new exciting projects coming your way. Events, Showcases and other traffic boosting elements will be added in addition to our business directory.

Please note. This will NOT affect any land tiers.

These 12 sims will be included ONLY:
Business District Alpha
Business District Bravo
Business District Charlie
Business District Delta
Business District Echo
Business District Foxtrot
Business District Golf
Business District Hotel
Business District Indigo
Business District Juliet
Business District Kilo
Business District Lima

So please pardon our dust and be patient while we are under construction!

Thank you Kindly!

ZoHa Islands Support

ZoHa Islands – Request Form

Linden Lab 15 Week Gift Hunt/Grab

The Big 15th Birthday Weekly Gift Grab

Credit from Second Life Blog

Fifteen years is a tremendous achievement for any community, and we’ve been hard at work on a fun and interactive gift hunting series to thank our Residents. The Big 15th Birthday Weekly Gift Grab starts today – June 18th, 2018!

For the next 15 weeks, we’ll be releasing a different crystal-themed gift each week. All you have to do is find and collect the gifts. Each fabulous gift is available for one week only, and in one Region only. The Region will change each week, and we’ll be publishing clues each week to help you find the Region to search for that week’s gift – watch the Second Life social media channels and the Blog at for the clues.

How to get started:

  • Visit the Swaginator HUD kiosk here to grab your Swaginator HUD
  • Attach your Swaginator HUD
  • Investigate the clue for the week by checking our Blog or social media channels ( This week’s clue is already up so go check it out now!)
  • Find the Region and start searching

Remember, each gift is available for one week only, and then it’s gone. You can collect as many, or as few gifts as you want, but if you want to collect the final super-special Birthday Gift in the final week you will need to have collected all 14 of the previous gifts.

Don’t forget to check the Blog each week for updates.

VPNFilter: The Russians Really Are Coming For Your Data

A deadly serious threat is on the loose: a virus called VPNFilter that infects business and consumer-grade routers to steal passwords and other sensitive data from any device on a network served by an infected router. Here’s what you need to know now…

What is VPNFilter Malware?

In addition to stealing passwords, VPNFilter also degrades (decrypts) secure HTTPS connections to steal data from them and pass along new infections to the HTTPS connections’ destinations. Part of VPNFilter can survive a router reboot and then download other malware modules. It even has a “kill switch” that can destroy the firmware of its host router.

Already, VPNFilter has infected an estimated 500,000 to 1,000,000 routers worldwide, according to Cisco Systems’ Talos Intelligence threat research division.

The FBI attributes VPNFilter to the “Fancy Bear” Russian hacker group, which is implicated in the 2016 hack of the U.S. Democratic National Committee’s network and other political and industrial espionage campaigns. Political news site, The Daily Beast, reported on May 23rd that the FBI seized a key server used by the VPNFilter botnet. But that hardly slowed the havoc being wrought by VPNfilter because of the diabolically ingenious way it is designed.

VPNFilter consists of three modules or stages. The first module is a worm, a virus that rapidly slithers from one router to another, infecting each and replicating itself for further infections. Stage One also writes itself into a list of tasks that are performed by vulnerable routers each time they are rebooted, thereby ensuring that it will survive a reboot. Stage One’s next function is to facilitate other modules’ infection of the host router.

Stage Two is downloaded by Stage One if the former is not already present. Stage Two contains the “routine” spying functions that VPNFilter performs on each device connected to an infected router. It sniffs out passwords and other account credentials, contact lists, calendars with birthdays and other sensitive personal info. Stage Two can also execute any special instructions given to it by optional Stage Three modules, which may also be downloaded by Stage One.

Many Stage Three modules have been discovered since Talos Intelligence started tracking VPNFilter in 2016. For most of that time, it appeared that VPNFilter targeted relatively few but critically important industrial control systems. The infection of consumer routers was thought to be recruitment for a botnet whose primary target was the control systems.

Plenty of Fish

But recent modules show that VPNFilter’s masters are after many more and smaller prey, including your little home network.

One new module can alter incoming data before it’s displayed to users; for example, it can make your bank account balance look normal when in reality the account is being drained dry. Others can steal PGP encryption keys, SSL certificates, and other authentication credentials. Still others can inject malicious payloads into streams of outgoing data to spread VPNFilter and its custom payloads to destination devices.

Libraries of Stage Three modules are scattered all over the Internet. A clever clue to the IP addresses of such libraries was found hidden in the metadata of image files stored on Photobucket. When that resource was removed, Stage One moved on to backup sources.

If Stage One cannot find a library of Stage Three Modules it can go into “listening mode,” passively awaiting new instructions from its human masters. Those instructions may include the locations of libraries, or malicious payloads themselves, or a “kill switch” instruction that causes Stage One to erase itself and the entire file system of its host, effectively turning the router into a brick.

Who Is Vulnerable?

Only routers that run specific Linux-based firmware are vulnerable to VPNFilter. The bad news is that a lot of manufacturers use such firmware on many consumer-grade routers. Note that this vulnerability has nothing to do with the operating system on your computer. It’s the code running inside your router that’s at issue here.

I was going to include a list of vulnerable devices from vendors including Asus, D-Link, Huawei, Linksys, Mikrotik, Netgear, QNAP, TP-Link, Ubiquiti, Upvel, and ZTE, but there are over 100 known so far, and the list is growing. At this point, it seems better to assume that your router is on the list of vulnerable devices.

There’s one important caveat, though. VPNFilter is lazy, so it only tries to break into routers that have the default (factory-supplied) login credentials. If you are certain that you’ve secured your router with a password of your own choosing, then VPNFilter will move on to other targets.

I want to remind readers that your WiFi password (the one you use to connect your computer, tablet or phone to your router) is not the same as your router’s admin password. They are distinct; the router password is used to login to the router’s setup screens, where one can configure wifi passwords, and other settings.

What To Do About VPNFilter

Some security experts recommend that all router owners, not just owners of routers on this list, perform a factory reset on their routers. A reset restores a router’s firmware to the version that was shipped with it; so VPNFilter wlll be erased for certain, if it was present.

Most routers have a RESET button on the device. Depressing that button for 10 (or sometimes 30) seconds will reset the router’s login credentials, but may or may not affect the firmware. Because there are so many different router vendors and models, I recommend that you search online for instructions on how to reset your router’s firmware, if you decide to do so.

Next, change that default admin password! The Stage One worm works at lightning speed. It knocks on a router’s door just once, with the default password. If the worm gets no answer, it is vanquished. VPNFilter has gotten as far as it has by relying on the laziness of consumers and of professional IT workers who should know better. Change the router’s password, dang it! If you don’t know how to do that search online, or ask your Internet provider for help.

If your router is more than 4-5 years old, consider replacing it rather than resetting its firmware. The value of an antique router is negligible, a new one can be had for less than $50, and you will have peace of mind knowing that it’s factory-fresh. Your internet provider may even swap out your old router for a new one upon request.

Bottom line: VPNFilter is powerfully malicious; highly resilient; and spreading like wildfire. This is not a drill. Take all the precautions you can.

Have a Great Week From all of us on the ZI Staff.