Category Archives: Microsoft

Top 5 PC Games of 2017

2017 was a surprisingly great for gaming on the PC. There were a bunch of great titles, some of which I didn’t even get a chance to try out. Thankfully, I was kept busy with the great titles below. Look forward to our post on top 5 Nintendo Switch titles in the upcoming week! Let’s dive in, shall we? Continue reading Top 5 PC Games of 2017

1byone 4000DPI Programmable Wired USB Gaming Mouse Review

The 1byone Programmable Wired USB Gaming Mouse was given to me as a review unit from 1byone

A good mouse can really change the way a game is played. Two button mice with a scroll wheel have been replaced with 13 button monstrosities where every button can be programmed to your liking. Multiple profiles and fast DPI switching are at the palm of your hand with the 1byone USB Gaming Mouse. The packaging was slick, and the presentation of the mouse was much better than expected. Inside the box was the mouse along with an instruction manual and a CD for the software. Continue reading 1byone 4000DPI Programmable Wired USB Gaming Mouse Review

1byone foldable Bluetooth Keyboard

This 1byone foldable Bluetooth Keyboard was sent to me as a review unit by 1byone.

For the longest time, I have always wanted a portable Bluetooth keyboard. One that you can quickly setup and just start working. Whether it’s syncing to your phone for those afternoon writing sessions at Starbucks, or intense note-taking in class on a small desk with your tablet, the 1byone foldable Bluetooth keyboard will help you every step of the way. Continue reading 1byone foldable Bluetooth Keyboard

Disable Windows 10 Update in 60 Seconds

Windows 10 has become notoriously well-known for its attempts to sneak itself past its user on older versions of the Windows OS in the form of Windows Updates, so much so that it has become a widespread joke among social media platforms like Reddit and Facebook. Here’s how you can disable in in 60 seconds or less using one of these easy, safe utilities. Continue reading Disable Windows 10 Update in 60 Seconds

TeamViewer Users Hacked, Company Denies Responsibility

Yesterday at around 10:00 AM EST, TeamViewer’s website and log on servers had gone down due to Denial of Service attacks, causing users of the popular remote-desktop application to be locked out of their accounts. Some users, thinking they were secure, were still compromised. Continue reading TeamViewer Users Hacked, Company Denies Responsibility

How to easily use a VPN to protect your privacy

Browsing the internet isn’t as safe as it used to be, and even then probably was not as safe as we’d all thought it was. Hackers are constantly crawling the web for vulnerabilities in website code to expose the privacy of individual users, and chances are if you have ever connected to a public WiFi hotspot you have been on the same network of somebody that was trying to attack it. Protecting your privacy with a VPN is one great way to prevent accidental leakage of your sensitive information.

Continue reading How to easily use a VPN to protect your privacy

Use ShareX and Dropbox to create a powerful screenshot tool

Taking screenshots on my computer happens quite frequently, especially if I’m sending them to friends troubleshooting program code or issues with their computers. Cloud.ly was a great service for this before official support, but they have since limited the amount of screenshots you can upload to their servers. Dropbox has also offered a built-in screenshot utility, but it lacks many features that are important to me such as the ability to change hotkeys. Thankfully I’ve found a way to easily share my screenshots with Dropbox, but also customize my screenshotting experience using a nifty, open-source tool called ShareX.

Continue reading Use ShareX and Dropbox to create a powerful screenshot tool

Windows 10 Isn’t Just for Your ‘PC’ Anymore

Chrome, Explorer and Start Menu
Chrome, Explorer and Start Menu

Windows 10 (or should I say Windows 9?) has made progression way further than any version of Windows I have seen thus far. Microsoft’s intention when creating Windows 8 was to break the barrier between tablets and computers, creating a booming market of laptops and tablets that include touchscreens. Now with the creation of Windows 10, it has solidified itself as an operating system appeasing to both the PC enthusiast as well as the everyday tablet or PC user. Continue reading Windows 10 Isn’t Just for Your ‘PC’ Anymore

CM Storm Quickfire XT Mechanical Keyboard with Cherry MX Browns Review

Introduction

This is technically my second mechanical keyboard, my first being a CM Storm Quickfire Pro with Cherry MX Browns. I say technically because this is my fathers, I traded my Quickfire Pro for his CM Storm QuickfireXT, also with Browns. There are very few changes between the keyboards, but I wanted to bring to light my thoughts on this keyboard. I bought the Quickfire Pro back in 2013 as a birthday present for myself because I wanted a reliable keyboard for college and gaming use. I was not well versed in mechanical keyboards at the time, so I looked for the quietest mechanical keyboard I could find. I decided on Browns after listening to sound samples, and bought this keyboard as a result of some research on Amazon and some forums. I eventually switched with my father because I felt this keyboard was quieter, and he wanted a slightly louder keyboard that had more weight to it. I have been using this keyboard for 5 months now.

Look

This keyboard is low to the ground and has four rubber strips on the four corners of the keyboard. It hardly if ever slides on my desk and that is a great plus. I do like the kickstand legs from other keyboards, but I like the consistency and reliability of the rubber strips. I’ve seen other mechanical keyboards that have the firm’s logo tossed on it four or five times, but this keyboard only has it on the back and bottom, the latter of which no one will most likely see. The keyboard has no backlight, which I personally prefer due to the fact that I find LED distracting and unnecessary. The keys look nice, standard CM Storm font (which is a derivative of the font of the Nintendo GameCube, fun fact!), but the keys are laser etched.

Keyboard in all of its glory
Keyboard in all of its glory

A keycap can either be laser etched or laser engraved. Laser etched means that the character on the key on the key filled out. They stand out, but they are also wear away with moderate to heavy use. A laser engraved key is generally an outline of the character, but the key will never wear away. My Quickfire Pro never wore away in the 2 years of heavy use, and my XT hasn’t worn away yet, but I am sure it will in due time.

The keyboard itself is really relaxed looked and not flashy. The only “LED’s” on the keyboard are the three lights for Caps Lock, Num Lock, and Screen lock as well as the Windows Lock LED. Otherwise, the keyboard is completely bare, which I like. The cable that comes with the keyboard is braided, and it is quite nice to hold and use. I know it will not tangle up and that it is of a good quality.

Feel

This aspect is the most important part of the keyboard, the feel. As I stated before, my first keyboard was the Quickfire Pro with Cherry MX Browns, so I will be frequently comparing this keyboard to that. It is also worth noting that both keyboards are great, and they both serve the same purpose.

When I type a sentence on this keyboard, I find that it is a lot quieter than the Quickfire Pro. This may be due in part that the XT is thinner in build, so less reverberates within the keyboard, whereas there is more space inside the board the Quickfire Pro, so it is inherently louder. I will supply two sound samples below to present my point, and you can decide. I do not efficiently type at all, and cannot touch type yet, so I still bottom out on my keys all the time. There is only a 5% chance that I do not bottom out, and that is still not saying much. Because of this, I just click the keys at a force that I find comfortable without exerting myself. The Browns overall are definitely quiet keys in comparison to their Blue brethren. I have tried Blues, Blacks, Reds, and Clears once and I prefer the feel and bump of the Browns.

The keys are nice and clean. I barely feel the letters
The keys are nice and clean. I barely feel the letters

The keycap themselves are quite nice and I love the fact that they mimic the curve of my finger. The Quickfire Pro has the same keycap concept, and I just love it. I barely feel the laser etched keys on my fingers as I type, so you can rest assured that they will not interfere with the experience of the keyboard. The Spacebar has a really nice sound to it and I like that I can click it with my thumb effectively when I type.

This is a sound clip of my roommate typing on this keyboard followed by him clicking the backspace than the spacebar

Build Quality

This will be a much shorter section, but I felt it was worth mentioning nonetheless. The build quality is stellar. It is a very comfortable weight and everything feels extremely solid. I can tell they did not skimp out anywhere on this keyboard. Even the USB port on the back of the keyboard feels of good quality even after I unplugged the cable numerous times. The braided USB cable is also another great feature. It not only reassures me that I bought a premium product, but it also extends the life time of the USB cable.

Braided cable to prevent bends
Braided cable to prevent bends

Overall

This keyboard is great. It is quiet enough where I can use it without my roommates or my family hating me, but it still is loud enough for me to satisfyingly use. They keyboard is not fancy by any means, there are no fancy LED’s or RGB lights or even other profiles that are programmable. It is barebones mechanical keyboard with a couple extra features such as Windows Lock, MS delay for typing and gaming, and multimedia shortcuts when the user presses the function key and the respective “f” key, but otherwise it is scant. They offer other keyboards for a full LED keyboard such as the CM Storm TK with a full or the CM Storm Quickfire Ultimate. The XT does do what it has to do, and a damn good job at that, I recommend it for people that want a mechanical keyboard from a trusted company at a good price with no frills.

Under the Radar: Encrypting Your E-Mail with GPG

Everyone knows that the internet is an awesome place. We share photos on social networks, make conversation with friends, and play games with random strangers on the internet. While it may seem like we’re always in our private little bubble on the internet, sometimes we’re not always secure as we may think we are. Although using a special encryption algorithm known as GPG (similar to PGP), there is a way to communicate between you and others via email without compromising your information.

Whether you’re just an everyday person or an individual trying to ensure sensitive data doesn’t fall into the wrong hands, due to the nature and general insecurity of the internet something as potentially important as e-mails should be encrypted, especially now that governments are illegally accessing our information. It is quite easy to encrypt information sent through an email, although the concept of the way that it is encrypted is a little harder to understand, but I’m going to try and make it easy for you.

How does GPG encryption actually work?

GPG encryption works using two things: a public key, also known as a certificate meant to be distributed those you would like to contact, and a private key, used to decrypt the messages created using your public key. So let’s say that I have a guy named Jimmy, and I want to send him my social security number because I forgot to put it on the job application I handed him. I’d rather not just send it through a regular email, because I run the risk of someone potentially finding the email and copying down the information. Instead, me and Jimmy have our own public keys (certificates) created using special software, which we safely exchange through regular email. Even if someone had these certificates, it wouldn’t matter since they’re not signed on both sides by whoever is trying to read them. Now that we exchanged certificates and signed each others keys, essentially confirming each others identities, I enter my social security number into the email and encrypt it using my public key. It’s ready for whoever is on the other side, waiting to decrypt it using their very own private key.

Setting up E-Mail Encryption using Thunderbird

If you want to set up this encryption through your email account, there are a few steps that must be taken to do so. If you’re not the kind of person that’s big on internet security or anything computer related, it’s all good because I will make this as simple as possible.

Download GPG4Win: http://www.gpg4win.org/

Start by installing GPG4Win, which will allow you to create a unique certificate to encrypt whatever you want, in this case it is emails. This package includes the encryption algorithms and the user interface that controls it. When installing, make sure only the following are checked off:

Awesome! If you’re wondering why we don’t use Claws-Mail, it’s because it was poorly ported to Windows. I’ve had numerous crashing issues doing the simplest of things with it, like sending an email. Instead, we’ll just use Mozilla Thunderbird, because not only is it easier to setup, it’s a better program. Before we install Thunderbird, let’s setup our magical certificate.

While there is a way to do it within Thunderbird, I’m going to do it this way. Open up Kleopatra, the graphical user interface used to create GPG certificates. It looks a little funny, but it’s really easy to set one up. Go to File > New Certificate, or hit Ctrl+N.

You’ll now be presented with two options: “Create a personal OpenPGP key pair”, or “Create a personal X.509 key pair and certification request. Click the first option. Now put in a name and email, and if you want you can even put in a comment. These parameters are not encrypted and are publically visible to those that have your public certificate. Make sure you put in your real name, and the email address you will associate this with. Hit “Next”, and then “Create Key”. That’s it! You now have a unique GPG certificate. The best part about GPG4Win is that it works hand in hand with the plugin we install into Thunderbird, you don’t have to configure any settings whatsoever.

Download Mozilla Thunderbird: http://www.mozilla.com/thunderbird/

To set up Thunderbird, it’s pretty straightforward: just type in your email and it will automatically grab the server addresses associated with your account. Once your account is setup, we’re going to go ahead and download Enigmail.

Download Enigmail Thunderbird plugin: https://www.enigmail.net/download/index.php

Choose the plugin accordingly with whichever OS you have, in my case it is Windows 7. If you have a 64-bit OS don’t worry about it. It will still work since the Thunderbird client is a 32-bit application anyway. You’re probably wondering “what the heck is an .xpi file”? The first time I saw one I had no idea either, because it isn’t associated with any program. This file extension is used in accordance with Mozilla plugins, for both Firefox and Thunderbird. This plugin will obviously only work on Thunderbird though.

Now that you have the plugin downloaded, here’s what you do with it. Make sure you have Thunderbird open, and start by clicking the options button on the top right. Then choose “Add-ons”.

It will bring up a menu, and you’re just going to want to click the “Extensions” option on the left side of this menu. Now go to the folder where you downloaded this .xpi file, and drag it right into the extensions menu you opened in Thunderbird. It should prompt you asking to install the plugin, just wait the few seconds and accept. You’ve installed the plugin successfully!

By now you should have done four things: installed GPG4Win, set up a unique GPG certificate, installed Thunderbird, and installed the Enigmail plugin. We’re almost done! I’m just going to teach you how to send and receive encrypted emails.

Go ahead and open Thunderbird, and create a new email. Take note of the OpenPGP option at the top of the email composition window (there is also the S/MIME encryption next to it, but don’t worry about that). If you click the drop-down menu for OpenPGP, you will see two options: “Sign Message” and “Encrypt Message”. The option that matters the most is the “Encrypt Message” option to obfuscate the message that you’re sending, making it a jumbled mess of characters. Although if you are curious, when you sign an email what this does is just literally attach a digital signature (A.K.A. your certificate) to your email proving that you were the one that actually sent it. It’s made for security reasons on the receiving side, and it wouldn’t hurt to activate this option. Also, if this is the first time sending an encrypted email to a specific person, make sure they have your public key. You can go to OpenPGP in the top most bar, and select “Attach My Public Key”, this way it will be added to their keyring.

Now let’s say they send you a message back, which is encrypted but has their certificate attached. Thunderbird should prompt you to import their certificate, and you should proceed by accessing the “Key Management” in OpenPGP settings, right clicking their imported key (if you can’t see it, make sure “Display All Keys by Default is checked off), and signing it using your own key. So long as both parties have done it to each others keys, you should be able to decrypt each others messages.

Now you’re finally done! Feel free to send all the emails you want, because nobody will ever get a hold of them without your permission.

New to IRC? Here’s Some Clients For You, and How to Set It Up

Ever wondered what IRC was? You’ve probably realized that it’s some sort of chatting service by this point, hopefully. Essentially IRC, or Internet Relay Chat, is a protocol used to communicate with others through special servers, and while it seems complicated it is quite simple to set up!

So you wanna get started with IRC, right? Well first you have to pick your IRC client! There’s tons of them available, and you don’t even have to install one if you don’t want to. You may have even used IRC without realizing it, as some people embed chat rooms into the bottoms or sides of their web sites.

Anyway, here’s some awesome IRC clients that I’ve found to be very useful!

Colloquy (Mac OS/iOS)

I’m going to start off with Colloquy, as it is what I consider “the mother of all IRC clients”. The UI is arguably the most user friendly out of any existing client, and you don’t have to feel like you’re using some outdated piece of software inside the Windows ’98 terminal. While I do consider this the best IRC software I’ve used to date, it is currently limited to Mac OS and iOS only.

Colloquy Homepage

XChat (Windows/Linux)

Next up is XChat, one of the best IRC clients for Windows. While it does look rather unappealing, I have gotten past that aspect of it as I figured out that it is fully customizable within the program, from text color, to background, to font. The user interface isn’t quite as friendly as Colloquy, but it’s still very usable and likable. Give it a shot!

XChat 2 Homepage

Pidgin IM Client (Windows/Linux/Mac OS)

This is the Pidgin IM Client, which isn’t just used for communication over IRC. It supports pretty much any chat system, you name it: Facebook, AIM, Skype, Jabber, GChat, and more. Among most of the IRC clients for Windows, this is frankly the most customizable and good-looking one. There’s native plugin and theme support, and the program actually comes with a bunch of plugins you can play with. Although, if you are one to sweat the small stuff, you may not get that same feel with Pidgin. Personally, I’ve had some minor crashing issues with this program, but hey, might as well try!

Pidgin Homepage

Nettalk (Windows)

Although I’ve never personally tried this program out, it looks like a pretty powerful IRC client. There is plugin support, scripting support, and from the screenshots what appears to be simple theme support. You also have the ability to easily right click a persons name to run a command on a user, which most IRC clients have but this appears to be pretty straightforward. The user interface is simple and I’d like to compare it to XChat, but Nettalk appears to have its own special way of organization, which in itself doesn’t look that bad or hard to use.

Nettalk Homepage


Setting It Up

Okay! So now that you’ve chosen your IRC client (or at least I can only hope you have at this point), let’s get started on how to connect to a server and a channel. I will do two examples with Colloquy and XChat, but I think by seeing these examples you should be able to pretty much figure it out for the other two programs.
Colloquy
Enter your nickname at the top, you can choose whatever you like! Make sure server protocol is set to IRC, and now choose which chat server you’d like to join. This all depends on what chat room you want to go to and which server it is located in. Let’s use the example of trying to connect to the channel #Colloquy in the server chat.freenode.net. The server is the address where all these channels are located, and the channels are all the little rooms that you can join, hopefully this isn’t too hard to understand.
Upon hitting connect, you will be connected to the server, in this case it is Freenode. Now you can go ahead and join a room by clicking on the server and pressing “Join Room”, then type in a # sign followed by the name of the channel you’d like to connect to, in this case it is #Colloquy. Voila! You’ve successfully joined a chat room.
But wait! What if I don’t want to be in the Freenode server? What if I want to join an individually hosted IRC server, like PonyChat? It means that you just simply have to add the server to the list of other chat servers, but you must make sure you connect to that specific server (irc.us.ponychat.net) if you want to talk in PonyChat’s #20pc channel. Go to File > New Connection, and next to chat server, just put the server name, in this case it is irc.us.ponychat.net. Now connect, follow the steps for joining a room, and you are now connected to PonyChat’s channel! It’s that simple.
XChat

You’ll notice that the UI is a little bit different, but the functions are all exactly the same! This is the network connection box, where you can connect to the server of your choice. If it doesn’t exist, simply hit “Add”, and type in a name for the server. This isn’t specific, call it whatever you want. Then, hit edit and type in the address of the server. If you’re wondering what “/6667” is, leave those there! It is the port number, which is usually 6667, and it must be left at the end of the server address. Go ahead and connect!

Now, XChat will prompt you to type in the channel you want to connect to, let’s say #PonyChat again. Well, type it in and hit connect! That’s it! Also, just in case you accidentally close out of that and you’re hopeflessly confused, head to the server window, in our case PonyChat. It should have a bunch of text such as Message of the Day and such. The text box at the bottom of XChat could ALSO be used for commands. The only one you should worry about right now is “/join #[channel]”, with channel being the channel you want to connect to (without the brackets, by the way). Try it out, be amazed, have a party!