Tech Talk #53 – June 10, 2017

Do you hate websites that autoplay audio and videos?

Here’s how to stop them:

• For Chrome: Get the Disable HTML5 Autoplay plugin

• For Firefox: Use the FlashStopper add-on

• For Safari: there isn’t a plugin, but you can do it using Terminal. Quit Safari, go to /Applications/Utilities and open Terminal. Type this command into the window:

• defaults write IncludeInternalDebugMenu 1

• Press Return and wait a few seconds

• For Internet Explorer: While it’s technically possible, it breaks other functionality, so this is just another reason to use a modern browser

• For Microsoft Edge: you can turn off Flash, but most videos use HTML5, and at this time Edge doesn’t support a plugin to block HTML5



How to tell if a phone is stolen

Buying a new or used phone on eBay or Craigslist is a great way to save bunches of money. But maybe that great deal is because it’s a stolen phone. How can you tell? Get the phone’s ESN or IMEI number and enter it on the website. If the seller won’t give you the number before you buy the phone, it’s probably a stolen phone.



Pre-installed malware

If you’re a normal person and don’t spend a lot of time reading about computer security problems, you probably didn’t notice the controversy that erupted in April after a researcher discovered that HP was installing a keylogger with the Conexant audio driver on 28 laptop models sold since late 2015.


The audio driver records all the user’s keystrokes and saves the information to a local file. But why? This is how the computer knows if you’ve pressed the microphone mute/unmute keys or the volume keys. Lots of applications work this way. So, what’s the big deal here?


This particular driver wrote all the keystrokes to an unencrypted file accessible to anybody or any third-party software that knew where to look. This driver also used the Windows OutputDebugString API that could have recorded real-time keystrokes without using native Windows functions. The driver could have allowed access to historical keystroke data, where passwords, chat logs, visited URLs, source code, or other sensitive data is stored.


In May HP released an updated driver that removed the vulnerability. HP said the keylogger feature was only debugging code that was mistakenly left inside the driver package by the Conexant team.


So, yeah. This stuff happens all the time.



Google fun stuff

It’s not all hard work at Google. Here are some of the fun things those crazy Googlers have made for us:


If you’re sitting in front of your computer missing the old Atari game Breakout, cheer up. Open Google and do an image search for Atari Breakout. There ya go, bub. Use the mouse or the cursor keys to control your paddle.


Or maybe you’re feeling nostalgic for the old (really old) Google search homepage? Well, here ya go: It still works and everything, although your search results will come back on the modern page.


Oh, sure Breakout is fun and all, but what about your one true love, PacMan? Google’s got you covered there, too. Just search for pac-man, and you can play the Google Doodle from 2010.



The funny part

A man is floating along in a hot air balloon and realizes he’s lost. He sees a man walking across a field and shouts down.
“Can you tell me where I am?”
“You are in a balloon floating 30 feet above a field.”
“You must work in IT!”
“Yes! How did you know?”
“Because technically what you have told me is true, but it is of no help to my situation!”
“You must be a business manager.”
“Yes! How did you know?”
“Because you are drifting along, lost, in a mess with no idea how to get out, held up by nothing but hot air and now you are blaming it all on IT!”

Do you have a computer or technology question? Greg Cunningham has been providing Tehachapi with on-site PC and network services since 2007. Email Greg at

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