Friday, April 29, 2011

Corrupt Fonts–How to Reinstall a Font

Update: I now have a short video for this solution: http://youtu.be/lNmKVy0-jxc?hd=1.

First off the reason for this post and second actually how to fix the font problems!  A few months ago, I started having problems with some fonts on my desktop system displaying in bold, especially when viewing web pages.  The strange part was only some fonts displayed in bold and only on some sites.  Since I do not use my desktop a lot the problem was only slightly annoying.  I finally decided the problem is annoying enough to be fixed (ahem attempted to be fixed).

First off I decided to check Windows and Internet Explorer Settings.  Internet Explorer has accessibility settings that allow the user to change fonts for better readability; unfortunately everything looked ok.

Next, I decided to do some internet searches and see if I could find anything.  Outside of a number of people having trouble with pirated software deleting their fonts (interesting?), there was not much to go on.  I did, however, come across one interesting idea in the pirated software problem and that was the missing fonts.  A couple of fonts in particular are Arial, Courier, Tahoma, Times New Roman, and Veranda.  By checking with a second computer (that did not have any font problems!), I was able to determine that none of my fonts were missing.

Since the fonts were accounted, I decided to continue searching and came across a forum post with someone that was having a somewhat similar problem with fonts showing up in italics, most of the replies had the same ideas I had tried already, but one reply suggested reinstalling the fonts, even though they are there and show up correctly they still may be corrupt.  With some careful observations of websites that I had problems with, I deduced that the problem font was Arial.  So, taking the suggestion on the website I reinstalled the Arial font.  And, like magic the bold fonts disappeared and webpages displayed properly!

How to Reinstall a Font – In Windows 7

Reinstalling a font is a relatively easy process in process Windows 7 and Vista.  First click Start and in the search box type: “C:\windows\fonts\arial.ttf.”  Of course if a font other than Arial is giving you the trouble, simply type the name of the font in the place of Arial.

reinstall-a-font-step-1

This will open the font in the Windows Font Viewer.  To reinstall the font, click Install in the Windows Font Viewer.  This will reinstall the font and should correct any problems you were experiencing with that font.

arial-in-the-windows-font-viewer

If reinstalling the font does not work it may be necessary to get the correct font from another computer (that obviously works!) and install it.

Reinstall a Font in Windows XP

To reinstall a font in Windows XP click Start, then Run, and type in Fonts and press Enter on the keyboard.

fonts-in-Windows-XP

Next in the Font Window that opens, drag the offending font out of the folder and onto the desktop.  Then drag it back into the font folders, this will reinstall the font.

reinstall-a-font-in-windows-XP

Thursday, April 28, 2011

PEBKAC Errors?

Not sure what a PEBKAC error is?  Well, if you have ever heard of tech support saying your have such an error you should take offence at it!  It is however, in my opinion all too true, although some would argue that a computer is designed to generate PEBKAC errors and there may be some truth to that point!

So what does PEBKAC stand for?  PEBKAC is an acronym for Problem Exists Between Keyboard And Chair.  PEBKAC is the humorous term applied to a user error similar to saying a car has a “faulty steering actuator” or there is a “loose nut between the steering wheel and seat.”  There are a few other user error descriptions as well.  PICNIC – Problem In Chair Not In Computer and ID-10-T (pounced separately as ID  Ten  T) – do I need to explain what this stands for?

Except for hardware faults, basically all computer problems are caused by human error (or misunderstanding), either from the user or from the person that wrote the program.  The goal of this blog is to hopefully reduce some of the user error; sorry cannot do much about the programming errors!

Now of course this post is not complete without a few “funny” stories!

Taskbar Problems:

About two months ago, a client called in screaming profanities at me and demanding that I either give him a refund on his one year old system or send a technician out to repair it immediately. His problem was that the taskbar was on the right-hand side of his screen, and he couldn't get it back to the bottom.

Deleting Files:

Back in the early nineties, when I was doing PC/LAN support, I was approached by a nervous salesman. He was very concerned because Excel did not work on his computer anymore. I asked when it had stopped working and what he had done. He explained that he had tried to speed Excel up by deleting some spreadsheet files that he did not need, hoping that that would boost performance.

Now, whenever a user gets into trouble after deleting something, this usually needs immediate attention. So I asked him to tell me exactly what he deleted. The horrifying answer was that he had used the File Manager to delete all Excel files he found -- you know, files of type EXE (for those who may not know, Excel’s file extension is .xls).

I went pale. He said, "That was bad, huh?"

Fan’s got a Virus:

A guy came into my office, in a real panic. He kept saying something about how his computer screen was shaking violently, and he thought it had a virus! Going down to the computer, I found that the picture on the screen was indeed shaking a lot, but I also noticed something else...a desk fan was placed right next to the monitor, which was plugged into the same power strip. I switched the fan off, and the picture stopped shaking. I told him to move the fan away from the monitor in future, to avoid that problem.

Later on I heard him telling a colleague that his desk fan had a virus, and he had to keep it away from the screen to stop it from infecting his computer.

Virus Problem:

Back in the early 90s the programming staff in our office were still using dumb terminals to do mainframe programming. The department installed a dedicated PC to share files over a modem with other departments off site. People in the office began to use the machine for 'unofficial' purposes such as playing games after hours. Management saw this and, afraid of someone introducing a virus, installed password protection software on the machine (which also prevented the machine from being booted from a floppy disk to bypass the security). Shortly afterwards the machine began performing erratically and occasionally lost files. Our technical support group examined the machine and found a virus. Puzzled as to how a virus could have been introduced into a protected machine, they examined the various pieces of software in the office. It was found that the virus had come from the disk that had been used to install the password protection software onto the machine (in an attempt to protect the machine from viruses). Unfortunately, the anti-virus software they had on hand needed to be loaded from a bootable floppy disk to prevent infection of the diskette. However, as previously mentioned, the security software had disabled the boot function of the floppy disk drive. They finally ended up reformatting the entire drive to get rid of the virus.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Deleting Stubborn Files

Deleting files should be a simple process but unfortunately some files refuse to be deleted!  There are two common reasons why some files refuse to be deleted; the first and probably most common reason is the file is in use by a running program, and the second common reason is you do not have permission to delete the file.
For files that are in use, closing the program that is using the file should be all that is necessary to allow the file to be deleted.  For example if I have Microsoft Word Document that I want to delete; but currently have it open in Microsoft Word, I first need to close Microsoft Word before I can delete the file.  If you try to delete the file with it open, Windows will warn you that file is in use and allow you to try again once the file is closed or allow you to cancel the deletion.
deleting-a-file-that-is-in-use
If closing the program still does not allow you to delete the file, or if Microsoft Word crashed (that would never happen would it?) and still registers the file in us; you may need to restart the computer.  Alternatively you can also use Windows Task Manager to attempt to close the program that may be using the file, this may or may not work.
Now, what happens if you still cannot delete the file?  There are a couple more options which I will just quickly mention.  Just be careful though as any file that requires these measures would most likely be important, such as a system file.  Try deleting the file in Safe Mode, this should guarantee any program other than Windows that might be using the file is not running.  If the file still refuses to be deleted you can try renaming or moving the file to a different folder.  If that still does not work you can try using a File Delete Utility, a quick online search should provide you with a number of utilities that might be able to do the job.  And finally if the file still refuses to be deleted it might be possible to hex the file away using a hex editor (VERY dangerous!).
For files that you do not have permission to delete (access denied), the most likely reason is that you are not logged in with an account with high enough permissions to delete a file.  For example if I am using a regular user account and I try to delete a file  that was created by an administrator account, I will most likely be denied or required to provide the appropriate administrator credentials.  In the screen shot below I have denied my user account access to the file (yep you can actually do that!).
deleting-a-file-that-has-access-denied
To take it one step further, I also denied administrators access to the file; under normal circumstances the administrators should always have access to files, so you should not have to worry about this happening to you.  In the next screen shot, even though I have provided administrative access, I am still blocked from deleting the file.
deleting-a-access-denied-file---failed

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Deleting Files!

I am not sure why, but it seems like a lot of computer users I know struggle with deleting files.  Deleting a file actually involves several steps and even after completing all the steps below the file will still not be removed from the hard drive!

When deleting files, it is important to remember the files themselves are not actually deleted!  Only the pointers to file are deleted.  A pointer essentially allows the computer to locate and account for a file and the space it takes up.  So, delete the pointer and Windows will no longer be able to find the file and file will appear to be deleted and the space the file took up will be available.

Because the file is actually still on the hard drive it is still possible to recover a file that has been deleted and emptied from the Recycle Bin by using a special utility that can scan the hard drive.  If you need to recover a file you have accidentally deleted, it is extremely important that you try to recover it right away, otherwise Windows may overwrite the portion of the hard drive where the file was residing; to Windows this appears as empty space, even though technically it is not!

Two main ways you can delete a file are either by right clicking on the file and clicking delete or by selecting the file and pressing the delete key on the keyboard (yep that is what the Delete key on the keyboard is for!).

right-click-delete-file
Right Click on file and click Delete.

file-menu-delete-for-deleting-file
Or select file you wish to delete and from the File menu click Delete.

Once you have pressed/clicked delete Windows will confirm that you actually want to delete the file/s.  If you click Yes, the file will be deleted and sent to the Recycle Bin.

are-you-sure-you-want-to-delete-file-dialog

At this point this point, the deleted files are residing in the Recycle Bin and are still on the system taking up space.  This is something I see quite often, users will delete files but simply just leave them to pile up in the Recycle Bin.  One of the excuses I hear as to why a user does not empty the Recycle Bin is because they might need a file they have deleted.  My only comment on that is why did you delete the file then?  The Recycle Bin is not a storage location!

Once the Recycle Bin has been emptied, the pointer to the file will be permanently deleted from the system and the space the file took up will become available.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Internet Explorer 9

Internet Explorer 9 was released a couple of weeks ago and if you have Windows Update on, you most likely already have it, or will shortly!
Internet Explorer 9: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/internet-explorer/products/ie/home
Internet Explorer 9 has a host of new features, ranging from speed to usability to security.  Internet Explorer 9 sports more compact interface, with basically everything on one line, forward and back buttons; address bar; tabs; and home, favorites, and settings icons.  With Internet Explorer 9 and Windows 7, website can be pinned to the taskbar, which provides a simple single click access to your favorite sites.  Internet Explorer 9 will also be the first browser to support hardware acceleration (faster graphics!); you can check out some of the cool examples at the Internet Explorer Test Drive: http://ie.microsoft.com/testdrive/.
Internet-Explorer-9-new-interface
Also for those that care about such things, IE 9 supports HTML 5, CSS3, and a drastically faster JavaScript Engine!
As for my thoughts?  My experience with IE 9 has been overall positive.  IE 9 has been faster on my system, though not necessarily on loading pages, which is most likely caused by my slow internet connection.  What I find more useful are some of the new feature such as pining sites and auto fill in the address bar.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Renaming Multiple Files

The Windows operating system has nifty feature that allows a user to rename multiple files at the same time using a single base name and incrementing numbers. Something to keep in mind is the file that you select to rename will become the first file in the sequence. You can also use the F2 keyboard shortcut; however, I do not necessarily recommend it due to the fact it will most likely choose the last file of your selection, which probably is not the file you want to be first in the sequence.

First, select all the files you wish to rename, right click on the first file and click Rename.

rename-multiple-files_thumb1

Give the file the desired name and left click in an empty space or press Enter on the keyboard.

rename-multiple-files-example_thumb1

If you are renaming a large number of files it may take a while for Windows to rename all the files.

renamed-multiple-files-example_thumb

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Renaming a File

Renaming a file is a fairly simple process in Windows; however, there are a number of ways you can go about it, along with some nifty tricks and even a few hiccups.
Method #1 – Right Click Rename
One of the easiest ways to rename a file is to simply right click on the file you want to rename and click Rename (you can also access these options from the file menu).  Give the file the name you desire and just left click in an empty place or press Enter on the keyboard.
right click to rename file
file-menu-rename-for-renaming-file
Method #2 – Keyboard Shortcut F2
For this method, simply select the file and press F2 on the keyboard. Give the file the name you desire and left click in an empty place or press Enter on the keyboard.
F2 to rename file
Changing File Types
In both the screen shots above, I have the Windows Folder settings set to hide the file extensions, this prevents accidentally renaming or messing with the extension.  However, it is possible to change file types by changing the extension.  In the screen shots above, that is actually what the main.txt file is; simply a main.css file renamed to main.txt.  This works because both the CSS file and TXT file formats are the same – plain text.  With the screen shot below, I have changed Windows Folder settings to show extensions and have changed the TXT format to HTML and Windows alerts that this may not work.  Contrary to what Windows said this will actually work.  One needs to be careful when changing extensions; for example, changing a JPEG file to a PNG file is not possible by simply be renaming the extension (JPEG and PNG are different formats).  Windows will alert you if you try to change or modify a file extension.  If you wish to change the extension simply click Yes.
rename a file extension
changing a file extension warning

Sunday, April 3, 2011

How to Spot a Fake Anti-virus Virus

Back when I was writing the blog posts on fake anti-virus, I attempted to find a corrupted website that would attempt to install a fake anti-virus; unfortunately, I never found one then; but I have now!
You can read the article on fake anti-virus programs here: http://computer-skills-online.blogspot.com/2011/02/scareware-be-very-scared.html.  Fake Anti-virus programs account for most of the viruses I end up removing, so this is a very real problem!
Now on to the good stuff (not really), the other day way while I was doing a Bing Image search I clicked on an image from the image search and rather than being greeted by the chosen image, I was prompted with the fact that my computer was infected by viruses!  Now, it is worth noting that this image search was actually from the image on Bing’s homepage (http://bing.com/); so, it should not have been bad!  As for the site that was hosting the virus, judging from the fact that Bing indexed the image on the website at one time; I am guessing this was a legitimate website that was most likely hacked!
fake-antivirus-warning-in-bing-image-search-with-download
Now, the theory is that most users would be worried that their computer is infected by viruses and would click the Clean Computer, and judging by how many customers I have with this problem, I would say that theory is quite true!  However, careful observation leads to several glaring problems with these supposed infections on my computer.
  1. Perhaps the most obvious in the screen shot above (for me) is the fact that the supposed anti-virus scan has the Windows XP look, I am running Windows 7.  Obviously if you running Windows XP, then the supposed anti-virus scan has the right look; with one minor exception, why is it appearing inside of Internet Explorer?
  2. Even if the supposed anti-virus scan had the right look, the screen shot of “My Computer” in the anti-virus scan does not look like my “My Computer.”  From the screenshot above, you can see there is only one hard drive (Hard drive C).  Below I have screenshot of my “My Computer,” and in my real screenshot there are 4 hard drives listed.
    My-Computer
  3. A third small but important difference is the fact that the hard drive in the supposed anti-virus screenshot is labeled “Hard drive C.”  I have never seen a hard disk labeled “Hard drive C” usually drive C is labeled “Local Disk C or with newer operating systems “OS C.”
  4. For the forth problem, we have a mathematics problem.  In the screen shot “Shared Documents” is infected with 5 viruses and “Hard drive C” is infected with 5 viruses; and according to the dialog box that lists all the viruses there are 10 viruses.  Sounds correct right?  There is one major problem, Shared Documents is inside of “Hard drive C,” (C:/Documents and Settings/All Users/Shared Documents).  Hence, there should only be 5 viruses!
  5. For the last nit-picking item, the location of the viruses is in “Shared Documents,” this location is a might fishy and would be more believable if the virus location was “My Documents.”
What should you do if you see this popup?  Immediately close your browser and restart the computer.  If you cannot close the browser window, just restart the computer or if need be kill it (press and hold the power button)!  Once your computer is restarted use your anti-virus program to perform a full system scan.  As long as you did not click on anything in the browser window, your computer should remain clean.  Something to remember with most malicious programs, they do not install themselves, usually some intervention on your part is required!
If your computer is infected, check out my posts here on how to remove them:
Part 1: http://computer-skills-online.blogspot.com/2011/03/cleaning-aftermath-of-virus-part-1.html
Part 2: http://computer-skills-online.blogspot.com/2011/03/cleaning-aftermath-of-virus-part-2.html
Now, it is suffice to say I did not follow my own directions and decided to be stupid, I clicked on the “Clean Computer.”  First thing that pops up is a download dialog box; so, being really stupid, I downloaded the file.  Now with Internet Explorer 9’s new downloader it warned me that this file could harm my computer.
fake-antivirus-warning-in-bing-image-search-download-dialog-box
I decided I was not stupid enough to try running the file and decided the delete option that the Internet Explorer downloader provided me with was the best option.  Sorry to the folks who wanted to see the next post on how reassemble an exploded laptop!
Unfortunately, even though I deleted the file, my laptop was still infected with a virus and it took a few full system scan with Microsoft Security Essentials before it was back to normal!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

What is a File?

This may seem like a “duh” question, but do you really know what is a computer file?  A file is a block or resource for storing or retrieving information.  Back in the early days of computers a file was actually a real physical file known as a punch card.  Now days most files are stored magnetically on disk drives.  Files may also be stored on optical media and flash drives.  There are three main components of a file, the name, the extension (or type), and the size.
list of files without extensions
There are two parts to a file name; the name and the extension.  In the screenshot above I have a couple of different file types and even two files that have same the name (didn’t think you could do that?).  With current Windows operating systems and their file systems you can give a file virtually any name you want up to 255 characters, with the exception of special characters (\ / : * ? " < > |).  Back in the days of DOS, file names were limited to 8 characters (imagine trying to name all those images you have!); and only 3 characters for the extension.
The size of a file is measured in bytes, a byte is eight bits (or eight 0’s and 1’s).  For larger files kilo (KB - thousand), mega (MB - million), and giga (GB - billion) prefixes are used.  In the screen shot above, all the files are measured in kilobytes, with the biggest file only be 11,000 bytes (or 11 kilobytes).  With the exception of the ZIP file, the files in the screenshot are mostly simple text, which is the reason for the relatively small sizes.  Large files such as pictures and videos are often measure in megabytes and gigabytes.
Now, as for the two files that appear to be named the same. While the files are named the same, they have different extensions (screen shot below); one file is a .css (cascading style sheet) and the other .txt (text file).  So, you can name files the same, as long as the extensions are different.  In the screen shot below I have Windows set to show the extensions of files.
list of files with extensions