WHY DO COMPUTERS CRASH?

It’s a real pain when your computer locks up, freezes, crashes, or displays the dreaded “blue screen of death” with some cryptic error message. This sort of problem can be devilishly difficult to diagnose, because many things can cause a computer to crash. Here are seven common causes of computer crashes and some tips on how to deal with them…

Why Do Computers Crash?

Often I’ll get people asking the question along the lines of ‘My computer is crashing, what should I do?’. As much as I’d like to help, that’s not enough information to diagnose the problem and suggest a solution.

A computer crash can take the form of a complete power down, an unexpected restart, the Blue Screen of Death, or a screen freeze. In some cases, just restarting the computer will get you going again. But chances are, you haven’t really solved the problem. Here are seven things that can cause your computer to crash:

HEAT: An overheated processor (CPU) will shut down without warning, to avoid damage. Heat can build up because a cooling fan is not working or is clogged with dust. Hard drives are also temperature sensitive, and I suspect that motherboards and RAM memory can become flaky when temperatures inside a desktop or laptop computer rise above normal

One of my computers used to experience random crashes every few months while using second life. I found that periodically opening the case and cleaning all the fans, heat sinks and components with a can of compressed air would solve the problem temporarily. Replacing the system fan (which was making loud buzzing noise) solved the problem.

There are free utilities  that monitor temperatures within your computer and fan speeds; some will even let you control fan speed. A few months ago, my desktop PC would just lock up or shut down at seemingly random times. I used a free temperature monitor program to determine that my graphics adapter was overheating. When I opened the case, I found that it’s cooling fan had seized, and was partially melted! Fortunately, it was designed to send a “Warning, Danger!” signal to the motherboard, which prevented it from catching fire.

SOFTWARE ERRORS: If crashes occur only when you’re using a specific software application, that’s the first place to look for problems. Sometimes a software bug causes a crash when a certain operation is attempted. Check the software maker’s Web site for any updates that may fix your problem. It’s also a good idea to scan your computer to ensure that all your software is up to date with the latest security patches.

Occasionally, software may become corrupted or “scrambled;” that can cause crashes too. If software updates and a disk check (see below) don’t fix your problem, you may have to remove and then re-install the corrupted software.

HARD DRIVE ERRORS are yet another potential cause of computer crashes. A problem with your hard drive doesn’t necessarily mean that it needs to be replaced. There are a variety of factors that can cause files, folders, or partitions to become damaged or lost. Human error, malware, and poorly designed software are all possibilities.

A drive error may be a logical error in the Master File Table, or a defective sector on the disk itself. Windows has a built-in utility that will detect and fix logical errors, and mark bad sectors so they are not used to store data.

MALWARE: Viruses and other forms of malware often causes computer crashes; in fact, some malware is written to do just that. Running a full scan with one or more good anti-malware tools is a good thing to do when crashes occur at random. If you want to replace or supplement your existing anti-virus protection with free alternatives. MalWareBytes and Avast Free anti-virus are my best picks to take care of these issues.

DEVICE DRIVERS: Outdated device drivers and (GPU) drivers can cause crashes. I’ve heard reports where simply plugging a device into a USB port caused a system crash. Drivers usually work fine until you install a new operating system or a major update to an existing operating system, such as a Service Pack. If you start suffering crashes after an operating system change, updating the drivers for your printer, scanner, CD/DVD drive, external hard drive and other peripheral devices may solve the problem. The best place to look for new device drivers is the vendor’s website. Stay away from “driver update” websites and downloadable programs that offer to scan your system and supply new drivers.

FLAKY MEMORY: It’s rare for RAM memory to go bad, but that can be a cause of computer crashes. Sometimes a RAM chip with a “bad spot” will work fine, until a software program attempts to use that portion of memory. Memtest86+ is one of several utilities that can diagnose problems with RAM and other hardware that may be causing computer crashes.

FAILING POWER SUPPLY: Unexpected restarts can also be a sign of a failing power supply. When someone has tried everything else, and their computer is still glitching at seemingly random times, I often recommend a new power supply. Fortunately, power supplies are cheap and easy to replace yourself.

If your problem is software-related, there’s a free program called WhoCrashed that you can run after experiencing a system crash, unexpected shutdown/reset, or “blue screen of death” event. WhoCrashed which will analyze your Windows system log files, report on the most likely cause, and offer suggestions on how to fix the problem.

Have a Great Week

Deuce Marjeta

 


Google Backup & Sync

 

Google Drive just got a lot more useful and user-friendly, with the introduction of an app called Google Backup & Sync. It combines features of the Google Drive and Google photos apps, and adds some finer controls over what is saved to the cloud and when. Let’s see how it works…

Protect Your Files With Google Backup & Sync

The new Backup & Sync app is one easy way to make sure that the documents and photos on your Windows or Mac hard drive are automatically backed up to cloud storage. If you add, modify or delete a file in your Documents or Pictures folder, that change will be reflected in your Google Drive storage in the cloud.

In addition to backing up your local files to cloud storage, Backup & Sync also works in the opposite direction, backing up your Google Drive storage to a local hard drive folder. If you use the cloud-based Google Docs word processor or Google Sheets spreadsheet, you’ll like that.

You can download and install Backup & Sync from this link. When installed, it replaces the Google Drive app on your computer, if you already had it. (It also made the Network icon in my system tray disappear, but it came back in a few minutes. You may or may not have a similar, temporary glitch.)

Google backup and sync app

Some users have noted that the Backup & Sync icon is hidden in the Windows system tray. To make it always visible in the system tray, click on the up-arrow that shows hidden icons and select “Customize.” Find the Backup & Sync icon and change its default to “Show icon and notifications.” Problem solved.

Click once on the Backup & Sync icon to open a small window. It shows current or recent backup and sync activity. On the menu bar are icons that give you access to Google Drive or Google Photos, and to the Google Drive folder on your local device. Click on the three-dots button at the far right end of the menu bar. Select Preferences.

Backup and Sync Preferences and Settings

In the left sidebar you’ll find the Google Drive folder that the app created on your hard drive. By default, everything in your Google Drive cloud storage is synced to a local folder on your computer. But now, you have the option to select subfolders from Google Drive cloud to sync to your hard drive. Click on “Google Drive” and then “Sync only these folders” to access that option.

You’ll also see “My Laptop” or “My Computer” in the left sidebar. If you install the app on other devices linked to your Google Account, they would appear here too.

In the center section of the control panel, you can select or deselect folders on the selected device (e.g., My Laptop) to be continuously backed up and synced with Google Drive and/or Google Photos. If desired, you can add other folders to be backed up.

Photo and video files can be uploaded to the cloud in their original sizes, subject to your storage capacity available in the cloud. But if you let Google compress your photos and videos, free cloud storage is unlimited. You should enable the option to upload photos and videos to Google Photo, to take advantage of the free storage deal; I don’t know why it’s at the bottom of the control panel instead of right up here. The files on your hard drive remain their original sizes. (Note: unlimited free storage is only available for photos and videos.)

Fine Tuning Backup & Sync

The “Removing items” options control what happens when you delete a file from your local drive. Options include deleting files from the cloud and all of your other devices running Backup & Sync; automatically deleting files only from your local drive; or being asked if you want to delete files everywhere when you delete them on your local drive.

Files stored on USB devices and SD cards will automatically be backed up to the cloud when they are plugged into a device that’s running Backup & Sync. You can turn this default off if you wish, using the link at the bottom of the Preferences window.

The Settings page (see link in the left sidebar of Preferences) is self-explanatory except for “Network Settings.” Click on that link to control how much bandwidth Backup & Sync uses. (Bandwidth refers to the amount and rate of data transferred over a network.) The default is “unlimited” but you may want to throttle Backup & Sync if its activity slows your other online activities.

I’ve only used Backup & Sync for a couple of days, but already I like it better than the old Google Drive app. Give it a try. And what does this have to do with Second Life? Anyone that builds or has a database, saved passwords, business spread sheets, ETC. knows this is valuable to back up all saved content for recovery.

Looking for your new land? Click here

Have a great week

Deuce Marjeta

What Is The Ultimate Gaming PC?

High End PC Gaming Systems

When it comes to gaming PCs, it’s all about the speed. And if you play Second Life and other high end games like I do Every component must be the fastest in its class. Of course, the best is not cheap; high-end gaming PCs can cost from $3000 to $5000, and up to $10,000 at the extreme.

Some gamers build their own dream machines from scratch. But most turn to boutique custom-build companies that specialize in high-performance PCs for gamers. Alienware, CyberPower PC, Velocity Micro, iBUYPOWER and Falcon Northwest, Digital Storm, Origin PC, and Maingear are some of the most respected names in the custom-built gaming PC market.

Whether you are going to build or buy, you should be aware of the ingredients of a high-performance desktop PC designed for gaming:

CPU: specifically, a multicore processor such as the Intel Core i7-7600. The faster, the better; the Core i7 can be overclocked to a staggering 5 Ghz! The 2-core and 4-core processors are common; some CPUs come with 6 to 10 cores for blazing multi-threaded speed. Speaking of “blazing,” you definitely need a good liquid cooling system to keep these babies from overheating.

RAM is often maxed out in high-end gaming PCs, with as much as 32 GB. Speed is important in RAM, too; top gaming PCs use 1600 or 2600 Mhz DDR4 RAM.

Graphics processing units are critical for fast, smooth animation and 3D effects. You will often find more than one GPU in a high-end gaming PC, each sporting at least a gigabyte of memory. The Nvidia GeForce GTX 570 and 580 GPUs are a popular choice for second life. I prefer the GTX 1080ti ATI is another preferred vendor in high-performance GPUs.

Hard Drives and Peripherals for Gaming PCs

Solid-state drives are the performance gamer’s choice. They’re much faster than spinning hard drives, and they’re silent. However, SSD storage is very expensive per gigabyte so most high-end gaming PCs use a mixture of SSD and spinning magnetic storage.

Hard drives in high-end gaming PCs tend to be huge in order to hold lots of games. Each game can occupy 35 GB of disk space or more. Speed is critical in retrieving data from the drive, so a very fast hard drive the Western Digital Velociraptor is often chosen.

Of course, a top-flight monitor is essential for high-performance gaming. Bigger screens are always better, but 24 inches is considered a minimum for hard-core gaming Multiple monitors up to 4 with some of these graphics cards. A pixel response time of 5 ms or less is essential to keep up with fast-paced game action.

Gamers use many peripheral devices including mice, joysticks, steering wheels, digital guns, etc. So a high-end gaming PC comes with lots of connectors and many types of interface: USB, HDMI, Firewire, and so on.

Gamers’ penchant for flashing lights and special effects extends to the cases of their macho PCs. Many gaming PC cases are made of see-through materials that show off the high-performance components inside. Internal lighting is also considered cool. But when all is said and done, it’s the speed, baby.

So you want a recommendation for the ultimate gaming PC? A couple of years ago The Alienware Area-51 ALX Desktop is designed for total domination, with a price tag that starts at $3499. I configured one with an overclocked Intel® Core™ i7 990x Extreme Six Core Processor (4.0GHz, 12MB Cache), 12GB of Triple Channel 1600MHz DDR3 RAM, dual 4GB GDDR5 AMD Radeon™ HD 6990 video cards, a 1.2TB hard drive (SATA-II, 10,000 RPM), and the Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium sound card. Price: $7818. And don’t get me started on what I configured on my new Gaming Laptop.
Of course you don’t need a machine like this to play second life but if you are wanting to see SL at its best and have little to no lag? Spend the money the first time you can’t go wrong and you will have years of use.
Have a Great Week.
Deuce Marjeta

New Family Orientated HUB Shopping & Activities Community – Introducing Bitty Bazaar

Bitty Bazaar is located on one of ZoHa Islands Region “Marbella Bay” and is a new up and coming family orientated community full of vendors, activities, places to explore and visit as well as club events, story times and classes for all.   There is a creators lab for builders and creators to utilize as well. We spoke to owner Delilah Greyson (amoralie.triellis) about the event and this is what she had to say:

“Bitty Bazaar is a 24/7 collection of over 200 shops that cater to the kid community. While we’re not an event, we do host frequent festivities in our Kids Hangout and all around our sim! We opened our doors just a few weeks ago – on July 1st, 2017. We’ve been so excited to hear so many positive things about our little world.

The kid community is full of so many talented, awesome people that we wanted to create a place that brought us all together. There aren’t many dance clubs or hangouts like the adult community has – so we thought it was time to fix that. Our sim consists of 6 separate islands surrounding Town Square, which hold over 200 shops – all kid related! Not just kid creators are welcome, adult stores that have furniture or hair that kids can use are welcome to be a part of our collective.

Not just kids are allowed either – its a place for babies, kids, teens, and families to spend time together and meet others while finding new creators to love!”

6 Themed Locations Include: 

Bittipop Candy Shop, Bitty Carnival, Bitty Bay, BittyBrook Forest, IttyBitty Unicorn City and Bitty Beyond.

Creators Lab for Builders and Designers:

A space for creating and idea sharing, teaching, sharing and just building with people with like interests.  So many people build alone on their platforms why not be around people who do the same as you?

A Unique Shopping Hud Experience:

When you arrive at Bitty Bazaar (after July 1st, 2017) you can pick up a
FREE shopping HUD. Over 200 designers, events, communities, and
creators are waiting for you to discover them!

You’ll no doubt find many stores that you’ll want to visit. But instead of
gathering an inventory full of LMs, you’ll simply click on their save box to
save their LM to your Shopping HUD!

After you’re done browsing at Bitty Bazaar, you can begin teleporting to
all of the places you saved. You can even shop while you’re at home! The
Bitty Bazaar HUD has a full directory of shops that you can save straight
from your HUD.

DoublePulsar: The Undetectable Backdoor

Second Life as we know seems to be hard to hack, But is becoming more evident it’s an open source for hacks and Malware as much as just surfing the Interwebs. Our advice is, NEVER EVER click on links sent to you In World! Sure your friends could send you a seemingly harmless link they found and just have to have you see it, and BAM! you are now paying a ransom to get your computer back.! So folk’s just DON’T!

While everyone was preoccupied with the Wannacry ransomware epidemic that began in mid-May, a bigger threat was secretly spreading through tens of thousands of computers. It locks up files and demands a ransom, too, but that’s just a smoke screen designed to distract victims from what this sneaky malware is really up to. Here’s what you need to know about DoublePulsar…

What is DoublePulsar?

There are lots of movies that deal with the theme of “lab experiment gone wrong.” In Jurassic Park, for example, the dinosaurs created by well-meaning scientists escape from the lab and wreak havoc on the outside world. A similar thing has recently happened, but in the digital world this time.   

The U.S. government’s premier spy agency created a program called DoublePulsar that enables undetectable infiltration of a target computer. Then someone stole DoublePulsar and a bunch of other NSA spying tools. A hacker group known as the Shadow Brokers posted the NSA tools online, and they were immediately exploited.

Before encrypting an infected computer’s data, this malware scans documents, email, browser histories, and other targets looking for login credentials. With credentials, hackers can infiltrate an entire enterprise network and work all sorts of mischief. Data can be stolen; operations disrupted; and computers turned into slaves to hackers’ other projects.

NSA DoublePulsar hacking tool

For consumers on home networks, being enslaved as part of a botnet is the most serious danger. Some bots are being used to launch spam campaigns. Others are being exploited to “mine” cryptocurrency like Bitcoin, creating wealth for hackers from the computing resources of others.

The galling thing about this malware is that it uses a sophisticated hacking tool developed by the National Security Agency (NSA). DoublePulsar allows malware to enter target systems undetected by 99% of commercial security software. The malware can be injected into the kernel, the heart of an operating system, where the malware will have the highest system privileges.

Conscientious consumers can protect themselves. Microsoft has issued two sets of Windows patches designed to ward off the stolen NSA hacking tools. But the NSA has not been forthcoming about all of the Windows vulnerabilities it has discovered, prompting Microsoft president Brad Smith to blast the NSA and other government agencies that don’t share knowledge that could improve everyone’s security.

Undetectable malware is on the rise. In mid-June, 2017, a new technique called “fileless malware” was used to infect the point-of-sale systems of several hundred restaurants. This type of malware is never written to a disk; it is injected into RAM and does its dirty work there. Most anti-malware software scans for “signatures” in executable files, and overlooks fileless malware.

In the past, only governments had sophisticated hacking tools like these. But now, Shadow Brokers is offering subscription access to NSA tools, and a user interface called Metasploit that makes child’s play of plotting and executing a global ransomware or credential-stealing attack. Anyone with a few hundred bucks can wreak global havoc.

The biggest fear among security experts is that DoublePulsar and other NSA tools have been used to compromise the computers that run critical infrastructure such as power grids, hospitals, railroad systems, traffic lights, and so on. Lives could be at risk.

The best that consumers can do is keep their systems up to date with security patches. I mentioned earlier that Microsoft has issued Windows patches designed to ward off the stolen NSA hacking tools. Those patches were released back in March. So it was failure to apply security patches in a timely manner that allowed WannaCry and DoublePulsar to attack and spread widely.

If you’re not already configured for automatic Windows updates, you really should be. Here’s how to do it:

In Windows 7, click the Start button and enter “windows update” in the search box. Open Windows Update from the search results list. In the left sidebar, select “change settings.” Under “Important updates,” select “Install automatically” from the drop-down menu. Pick a convenient time for Windows to install updates and restart your PC, if necessary. The default is 3:00 a.m.

Windows 10 installs updates automatically by default. To fine-tune Win 10 updates, enter “windows update settings” in the search box on the taskbar, and click on that phrase in the search results. Next, click the Advanced link, and check the box next to “Use my sign-in…”. This allows Windows 10 to complete the installation of updates that require a restart. When this option is checked, Win 10 will log you out, restart and install updates, then log you back in.

If you use Microsoft products such as Office, check the box that enables updating of those as well as Windows. The rest of the options should be left as they are unless you have a compelling reason to change them.

I’d like to Thank Bob Rankin for Sharing his expertise in computer security and how to stay safe.

Have a Happy And Safe 4th of July

Deuce Marjeta

Linden Lab Special Interactive Gift for 14th Birthday

To celebrate, Linden Lab has put together a special (and somewhat mysterious) gift set.

We’re not entirely sure what a Sananok is, but the Moles assure us they are friendly creatures that tend to keep to themselves and need a good home. Each Sananok avatar comes with a mysterious egg, which is  in fact so mysterious, not even the Moles know what it will hatch into.

Sananok Avatar

SL14Blog.png

A wearable avatar that includes a shape and an alpha layer.

Mysterious Egg  (Rezzable or wearable)

Egg.png

Things you can do with the egg:

  • Rez it out your parcel, make it feel at home.
  • Add it to your avatar to carry it around with you (perhaps for a night on the town?).
  • Have a tea party with it, it’s all good.

Keep an eye on your Egg as it will, from time to time, tell you things (like when it’s getting ready to hatch!).

Stop by the SL14B Birthday Regions and grab this gift from any of the gift kiosks available!