5 TrueCrypt Alternative Services

Securing your privacy has never been more important than it is now for several reasons. Not only does the average computer user need to protect data from hackers and viruses, but the NSA’s PRISM program is still active and ISPs are now allowed to spy on you, too.

It seems there are endless ways for third parties to capture your data. Even if you use a cloud storage service that encrypts data during transport and storage, it’s possible for cloud storage employees and hackers to access your data (with the exception of zero-knowledge providers).

Unfortunately, some services like Dropbox are notorious for poor security practices that make data easier for hackers to pluck than low-hanging fruit. In the past, the solution was simple: just use TrueCrypt to encrypt data before shipping it off to the cloud for storage.

The problem with that solution is, however, that TrueCrypt has gone the way of the dinosaur and is now defunct.

This link will take you to an article on cloudwards.net that discusses their take on The 5 Best TrueCrypt Alternative Services

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Building a WordPress Website

We are often asked to build websites for our clients and friends.  Though we are more than happy to do so we felt it was only fair to life the vail on how simple this can really be using tools such as WordPress.

Websites can be extremely complicated (Facebook, Google, Pinterest) or extremely simple (http://www.graftonbespoke.com). But most fall somewhere in between and so today I will be showing you how to go down that road. Do remember that simple websites can get complex very quickly and there is often a great deal going on in the background to make things look simple.

There are several different ways of building a website:

  1. Manually code it: Time consuming.  Needs a lot of skill.  Need to know HTML, CSS and PHP or J# et al.  VERY flexible.
  2. Use a site builder. Wix, 1&1:  Very simple.  Very limited in what you can do. Restrictive.
  3. Use a CMS (Content Management System): Slightly more complex than site builders, but much more flexible. Look and feel can be changed very easily. Many free templates available.

There are a whole load of other ways of doing this, including buying a canned “White label” website.  That is a system (often very complex) that you install and then customize to your needs (time entry, CRM…).

What are we going to do today?

As it says in the title, today we are going to start to build a WordPress website.  Building a whole website takes quite some time.  I am hoping to get you started and point you in the direction that you need to go

  1. Open a web browser and goto https://wordpress.com
  2. Click “Create Website”
  3. Chose what your website is about
  4. This will offer you a range of canned templates
  5. Choose one you like the look of. Don’t worry about it too much.  The beauty of this way of working is that you can change it at will
  6. Think of an a domain name you want to use (fred.wordpress.com, haggis.wordpress.com)
  7. It will let you know If your name is available and will offer some alternatives. It will also let you attach your own domain name (if you have one)
  8. Choose one of the free options
  9. Click on “Select Free Plan”
  10. Put in your email address, a user name (use the one it suggests) and a password (make a simple one up for now, although it is best to use a strong one (Tips for creating a Strong Password).
  11. Hit “Create Account”.
  12. Well done. You have created a website.
  13. You will receive an email to confirm your email address. Click on “Confirm Now”
  14. Log in to the page that comes up.
  15. Select “Settings”
  16. Give your site a title and tagline – Remember to hit “Save Settings”

Take a look at https://haggisweb.wordpress.com/ (If it still exists) I created it this morning while preparing for this session.  As you can see it is full of place holders.  They need replacing with real information.

Remember that WordPress was originally a blogging platform, so it tends to display as such.  It is not hard to make it a “normal” website.  Once you know what to look for you will be amazed the sites that are based on WordPress.

One of the great things about WordPress is the staggering amount of plugins that are available (many for free). Plugins add features (sometimes very complex ones) to your site, without you needing to code.  Take a look at “Infinite Scroll” and “Essential SEO”.

If you find this interface a little restrictive add “wp-admin” to the end of your address (http://haggisweb.wordpress.com/wp-admin) and you will have access to the full WordPress dashboard.

From here it is up to your imagination.

One more thing, as Steve Jobs liked saying…

Having a website is pointless unless you now that people are actually looking at it.  Select “Analytics” from the settings menu.  Here you can put in a Google Analytics Tracking ID.  To get this go to http://www.google.com/analytics/ log in with a Google account (create one if you do not have one).  You can then add your new site and you will be given an ID.  Enter that ID into your new website. It will take a little time, but eventually you will be able to see who is looking at your site, where are they from, what are they looking at and loads more info.

Have a play.  See what effects you can have.  It is hard to break it and even if you do break it it is not hard to reset.

There is obviously a lot more that goes in to a website in terms of connecting it to social media and other services, but remember CONTENT IS KING.  Make it interesting, show your passion and the followers will come.

Here are some websites that we have built for our clients.

Contact Us to book an appointment or to discuss your needs further.

Easily Control Automatic and Unwanted Windows 7 & 8.1 Upgrading to Windows 10

How to Block Windows 10 Upgrades

Steve Gibson is a well know, sometimes controversial, technology commentator and producer of some great tools and freeware. He has produced a tool that will prevent your PC from upgrading to Windows 10. I have copied the words from his website, but I suggest you go to the source for the tool.

It can be found here…. https://www.grc.com/never10.htm

Never 10 is an easy to use utility which gives users control over
whether their Windows 7 or 8.1 will upgrade itself to Windows 10.

The name “Never 10” is a bit of an overstatement, since this utility may also be used to easily re-enable Windows operating system automatic upgrading. But the primary reason for using this is to disable Windows’ pestering insistence upon upgrading Windows 7 or 8.1 to Windows 10.

Many users of Windows 7 and 8.1 are happy with their current version of Windows, and have no wish to upgrade to Windows 10. There are many reasons for this, but among them is the fact that Windows 10 has become controversial due to Microsoft’s evolution of their Windows operating system platform into a service which, among other things, aggressively monitors and reports on its users activities. This alone makes many users uncomfortable enough to cause them to choose to wait. In line with this, a few months into 2016, Windows 10 started displaying unsolicited advertisements on its users’ desktops. Others dislike the changes Microsoft made by merging their failed “tiled” smartphone user-interface into the Windows UI. And, finally, some object to being force-fed whatever Microsoft wants and simply wish to choose for themselves.

In July of 2015, responding to the significant user backlash, Microsoft added features to its Windows Update facility which allow it to be configured, on a machine-by-machine basis, to not forcibly upgrade qualifying Windows 7 and 8.1 operating systems to Windows 10. However, Microsoft did not make this configuration simple. It requires the use of the group policy editor (which is not present in some qualifying systems) and/or the system registry. In other words, they created some deep internal configuration options but chose not to provide a simple user-interface to give their users the choice. “Never10” provides that choice.

The elegance of this “Never 10” utility, is that it does not
install ANY software of its own
. It simply and quickly
performs the required system editing for its user.

If the system being configured has a version of Windows Update which is older than the required July 2015 release—which would mean that the required “upgrade disable” options are not yet present—this utility will notify its user (see the sample display screens above) and offer to download and install the required update to Windows Update so that Windows can then be configured not to upgrade itself to Windows 10.

Since this utility simply updates and/or configures the system to prevent or allow, OS upgrading, it may be deleted after it has configured the system appropriately.

Using this utility, inexperienced users will be able to easily use Never10 themselves, while advanced users will likely appreciate that fact that no additional software is installed and will be able to refer friends and family, whom they support, to this easy-to-use utility.

Contact Us to book an appointment or to discuss your needs further.

Lastpass Security

I have been a very busy person over the last few months, so I have not really had time to post.  But I do feel that the following warrants some time.

I have repeatedly recommended Lastpass to my friends, family and customers as a great way of storing your passwords.  Unfortunately, as was bound to happen, they have suffered a security breach.

Fortunately their internal architecture was well designed (unlike some others (Sony!  I’m looking at you)) and so the impact is minimal.

The Lastpass Blog gives full report from Lastpass themselves.

In Essence…

  1. There is nothing to worry about
  2. Change your Lastpass password
  3. Change the password of any sites that you have used the same password (bad idea anyway)

Don’t have nightmares 🙂

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Internet Backup

I am a member of a business networking group that also has a group on linked in. Recently a member asked…

Can you tell me anything about Livedrive? My backup man says he wouldn’t trust it with his data and my computer man swears by it. I am currently on it, but would prefer to have my data a bit nearer to me.

I started to answer the question and quickly realised that the answer may be of broader interest, and so here it is… (I seem to have wittered on for a while longer than intended. You may wish to skip to the summary)

I can’t tell you about LiveDrive specifically, as I have never used them. However having looked at their website I can tell you that they say all the right things. Unlimited, Data stored in UK, apps so you can get to your data from anywhere. They imply that they do versioning of files, but it is not clear if you can access the versions directly or if you have to ask LiveDrive to provide previous versions.

Your IT man is correct and your backup man needs to move in to the 21st century. Tell him to go to the library and get a book about this strange thing called the “Internet”. I hate to be rude, but it amazing how many IT folk are burying their heads in the sand and hoping the internet will go away, instead of embracing it and the opportunities it provides.

There are many backup strategies that you can use. The current favoured approach is called 321. No file is thought of as existing until you have…. 3 Copies on… 2 Different Media… 1 of them off site To this end an off-site backup provider serves as 2 different media (your hard disk and their storage system) and obviously it is Off-Site. To satisfy the 3 copies rule I do a number of thing…

  1. I use Carbonite (Similar to Livedrive)
  2. I have a local hard disk that I back up to (but like all normal people, this is sporadic – in fact I think I will make a backup now!)
  3. My documents folder is replicated to Microsoft One Drive and to Cubby (this has the benefit of ensuring that a, my business partner and I always have the same files to work on and b, there is always a copy on my business partners laptop as well as mine (and yes, he uses Carbonite as well)).

Please see this short blog entry about how this setup saved my bacon!

What are your concerns and why do you want to have your data near you?

I will try and address major concerns below and hopefully cover yours.

  1. Is the data secure? That depends on what you mean by secure. If you mean “Safe from Loss”, then yes. Typically the backup provider will have data centres in secure locations and will duplicate your data on more than 1 location. If you mean “Can the backup provider see my files” the answer is “it depends”. With the provider I use (Carbonite) the data is encrypted from me to them. I believe it is encrypted on their servers. I have chosen to let them manage the keys, which allows me to use the apps to access my data from anywhere. I do have the option to manage the keys myself. This means that they CANNOT see any of my data, but also means that a, I cannot use the apps they provide and b, I have to manage the keys (if I lose them I am in deep trouble).
  2. How quickly can I get to my data? Well. That is dependent on your internet connection and how much data you have. Some backup providers will ship you a DVD or disk with your data on (for a fee). This is where a local backup helps.


In short Internet Backup Good!

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Yes, Virginia, TrueCrypt is still safe to use

TrueCrypt, a fantastic free whole disk encryption tool has recently vanished of the face of the planet.  No one quite knows why, but everyone is wondering if it is safe to use (the last comments from the authors tend to indicate that it is not!).

Rather than reinventing the wheel, I thought I would pass on the following blog entry by Steve Gibson, a respected Tech/Security Guru, that gives his take on it and an answer to the question “Is TrueCrypt safe to use?”

Steve Gibson posted: “So opens the short editorial I wrote this morning and placed at the top of GRC’s new TrueCrypt Final Version Repository page. The impetus for the editorial was the continual influx of questions from people asking whether TrueCrypt was still safe to”

Yes, Virginia, TrueCrypt is still safe to use.

by Steve Gibson

So opens the short editorial I wrote this morning and placed at the top of GRC’s new TrueCrypt Final Version Repository page.

The impetus for the editorial was the continual influx of questions from people asking whether TrueCrypt was still safe to use, and if not, what they should switch to, and so on. By this time, one of the TrueCrypt developers, identified as David, had been heard from, and his interchange confirmed the essential points of my conjectured theory of the events surrounding the self-takedown of TrueCrypt.org, etc.

Rather than repeating that entire editorial here, I’m posting this as a pointer to it since folks here have thanked me for maintaining a blog and not relying solely upon Twitter.  And also, this venue supports feedback and interaction which GRC’s current read-only format can not.


Steve Gibson | May 30, 2014 at 3:05 pm | Tags: GRC, TrueCrypt | Categories: Uncategorized | URL: http://wp.me/pV3mA-7n

Comment    See all comments    Like

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Failed Website? Or is it just me?

Have you ever tried viewing to a website and failed to connect?

Here are a couple of sites that will help you answer the question…

Is it down or is it just me?




As always, click at your own risk.


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Free Microsoft Anti-Virus Tools

  1. Introduction
  2. Microsoft Security Essentials
  3. Microsoft Safety Scanner
  4. Microsoft Windows Defender Offline
  5. Summary


There are many tools about that promise to keep your pc clean from viruses and malware. Tools such as AVG, Avast!, Sophos and others make great promises, that are (probably) impossible to keep. They all have paid and free versions, the main difference being (in our opinion) that the free ones cause a performance hit on your PC.

It is beyond the scope of this report to make any real, meaningful comments about the effectiveness, or otherwise, of the tools. Suffice to say “you pays your money, you takes your choice”. Caveat emptor.

While it is true to say that the best cure is prevention, it is also true to say that it is no longer the case that YOU must have done something to get infected. These things come at us from all directions and the most innocent of things (websites usually) can be compromised. So what do you do once you are infected?

Below are 3 Free Microsoft Anti-Virus Tools, one a standard virus scanner and two offline tools, that you can use to start to clean up your computer. These tools may not clean your pc 100%, and you may still end up doing a system restore, but they will get you on the way and may clean things up enough for you to recover your data.


Microsoft Security Essentials

This first tool is Microsoft’s attempt at an online virus scanner. While I am sure many people will argue that there may be better tools about it has a few things going for it. It is truly free (for home users and companies with up to 10 users). This is not a hobbled free version of a paid tool. It is not intrusive, it only makes it self known whan it thinks there is a problem. It is from Microsoft, so it does not seem to slow you PC down. We have been running it in UA since it’s initial availablility and have remained virus free.
The Tool can be downloaded here. Microsoft Security Essentials
Install it, update it, run a scan. Simple


Microsoft Safety Scanner

Do you think your PC has a virus?

The Microsoft Safety Scanner is a free downloadable security tool that provides on-demand scanning and helps remove viruses, spyware, and other malicious software. It works with your existing antivirus software.

Note: The Microsoft Safety Scanner expires 10 days after being downloaded. To rerun a scan with the latest anti-malware definitions, download and run the Microsoft Safety Scanner again.

The Microsoft Safety Scanner is not a replacement for using an antivirus software program that provides ongoing protection.

The Tool can be downloaded here. Microsoft Safety Scanner


Microsoft Windows Defender Offline

So you have a scanner, you have been careful what you download and where you download from, but you still get infected! What can you do.

There are many tools out there that will clean a PC, but many of them require that you have an idea what you are infected with, and a working pc to download them!

This is an offline tool that you can prepare beforehand and have ready in your arsenal in case it is ever required. You use this tool to create a “boot” disk that you can start your PC with. It then updates itself (this works best if you are on a wired connection) and scans your PC. The scan can take hours, depending on how much data you have, and though it does not always remove everything bad, it should get you to a position where you can get your data off. Full instructions are included on the download page.

The Tool can be downloaded here. Microsoft Windows Defender Offline



No tool can keep you 100% safe, but these tools can help in the battle against the bad guys.

As stated above, it is best to not get infected in the first place. We have written on this subject in the past and I would suggest that a quick perusal of our Keeping Safe on the Internet page is a good idea to remind yourself of some precautions to take.


I hope this helps.

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