Welcome: Thirty Meter Telescope

Thirty Meter Telescope is an ambitious 1.4 billion dollars multi-national project involving thousands of scientists and engineers around the world.  belldeX is honored to have been selected a partner and to be able to contribute to science through our expertise in the IT field.   Welcome TMT to the family of belldeX clients.

Windows 10 Review

After the Windows 8 fiasco, I was less eager to evaluate Windows 9.  Microsoft must have concluded the same and decided to not release the Windows 9 and wait for Windows 10 development to complete.  There is no official word from Microsoft, I am only assuming this to be the case since there are no rhymes and reasons to skip 9 and go to 10 straight away.

I will write a more detailed evaluation later, but here are some of the things I have found about this latest version of OS:

  1. Windows 10 is free to upgrade for Windows 7 and 8.1 users.  It is not free however, if your version is Microsoft Volume Licensing (MVL).
  2. You remember the “I spy” game?  Be prepared for that as some of the settings and icons have been moved to different places.  Windows Update is no longer in the Control Panel but instead resides in Settings.  You do not have as much control over the updates you will install either.  Microsoft figures they know better than you do and will decide those things for you.
  3. The Windows Search is integrated with Bing.  Every time you try to search for something on your computer, Microsoft is eager to send you to their search engine on the Internet in hopes of earning a few adverting dollars from the “free” upgrade they gave you.
  4. Internet Explorer is still packed with this OS, but is tucked away and hidden.  Edge is the new browser.  As both browser names start with E, the logo is still similar.
  5. I do find this version of operating system to be faster than the previous version.  So, kudos to developers.
  6. Anti-virus and spyware is included and is called Windows Defender.  I have not used this OS long enough to give a review.  We will see in a few weeks.

That’s all for now.  In conclusion, I would recommend upgrading if you are using Windows 8, but wait a little longer if you are a Windows 7 user.



How secure is your password?

Most of us tend to choose a password that is easy to remember, and in most likelihood it is all in lowercase and perhaps it is either someone’s name or a word that you can find in the dictionary and in some cases just numbers, which are the worst kind. If this is the case, you may as well not even have a password since an average computer can crack it within seconds if not instantly. For example, a password such as sunshine (which is a commonly used by many) can be cracked instantly. This is because this is a word that is found in the dictionary.

Here is an explanation of how to turn a common password into impossible to crack and the important criteria to consider:

1. Length of password
2. Combination of lower and uppercase characters, numbers and special characters like !@#$%^&*/

If you choose sunshin (that is without the “e”), it will take about 2 seconds to crack it, which is longer than instantly if it were a full word. If you replace the last “e” with a number like 3 (i.e. sunshin3), it will take an average computer 11 minutes to crack it. But this is only with lowercase and numbers. Replacing one lowercase with uppercase will vastly increase its security. A password like Sunshin3 will bump it’s cracking time from 11 minutes to 15 hours, and that is just with one uppercase letter. What if you were to keep it at the same length, but simply replace a character with a special character, like Sun$hin3? Well this will now take 3 days for a computer to crack the password. The only thing that can help you from this point on is the increasing the length. With addition of each character you increase the security of the password exponentially. If you have a password such as Sun$hin3forever, which is now 15 characters long, it will take approximately 157 billion years for a desktop computer to crack it. My guess is that anyone who wants your password really bad, is not going to tie up the computer for that long and will give up after the first billion years.

Remember that there are supercomputers that can process quadrillion floating point operations (petaFLOPS). Which is much much much faster than a desktop computer. Every password can be cracked, the point is to make it as difficult as possible for the hackers to do so. On average, if a hacker cannot crack a password in a timely manner (depending on how bad they want it), they will simply move on to the next target.

I just realized, that I shared my password with the whole world in this article. Not to worry, I will change it tomorrow.

Please tune in for my next article where I will discuss more about passwords and the perils of using the same one for multiple sites, and how to protect your passwords within a vault.

Who are the parents of Security??

According to Benjamin Franklin they are “distrust” and “caution”.  There are no one-size-fits-all solution to this problem.  You cannot buy a product that will guarantee the security of your systems.  Paranoia is your friend when it comes to security.  As Franklin said: three can keep a secret if only all but one is alive.  Here are some sensible things to do to remain afloat in a sea of information:

  • If you are like me and don’t want to give out your email for security subscriptions, simply check our website’s security page for the latest security alerts.  You may want to bookmark it for future reference.
  • Make sure, users have as minimal access as possible (just enough to be able to do their work).
  • Validate backups.  Do not rely on “backed up with no errors” messages.  A good systems administrator will have restore drills frequently.  Have restoration plans on paper ready to go in your desk drawer (just in case all systems are down and you have no access to the files or the Internet.
  • Have your backup plan handy each time you perform an upgrade to the systems as they have been know to fail.
  • Make sure you have the latest firmware on your firewall.
  • Check processes on regular basis and watch for suspicious ones and investigate them as it may be a trojan not detected by antivirus.
  • Don’t be so obsessed with technology security that you leave the server room unlocked.

Hopefully you found these tips useful.  Please come back to mine more gems of security precautions and remember it is better to prevent disaster than to deal with it.

Reliability Monitor

If you own a computer, whether at home or in the office, you know that they are not perfect.  Although the computers believer they are.  It is common for a computer  user to experience, “freezes”, “unresponsiveness”, “crashes”, etc.   What is even more frustrating is not knowing what caused it.  Here is where a neat tool bundled with Window 7 and up come in handy.  By the way, rumors of Windows 7 and 7Up being banned in Brazil are not true.

Reliability Monitor
Reliability Monitor historical data

quickest way to get to it is by typing “Reliability Monitor” in the Search box and click on “View Reliability Monitor” after it shows up in the results.  You will see a history of reliability generated as shown in the image on the right.  The formula used to calculate the index is known to Microsoft only, so we do not know how and what are considered to generate the report.  Problems are marked with “X” on red circle and warnings are marked with exclamation on yellow and information is “i” on blue.  You can click on the x or the I to get  detailed report on the pane below.  To scroll historical data click on the left arrow.

Days that the computer was in off or sleep state are not used for the system stability index.  If there aren’t enough data, the graph line will be dotted.

If there are changes to the computer such as software updates and system time adjustments, an information icon will appear.

To view more detailed information, right-click on the item in the bottom pane and choose “view technical data”.  You can also view historical data by day or by week as you can see following the “View by:”.


Power Efficiency Diagnostics

Find the culprit that’s draining your laptop battery

There is yet another tucked away cool tool in Windows that will help you identify the source of your battery’s most consumers.  To use this tool you will need to open a Command Prompt as an administrator.  In the Search Programs and Files type CMD.  CMD.EXE appears in the search results.  Right click it and choose Run as administrator.  In the Command Prompt type “powercfg -energy” (without the quotes).  After serveral minutes of scanning your computer it will create a file located at C:\windows\system32\energy-report.html.  Move the file to another location and view it (Please Note, Windows will not permit you to view the file in the default location, thought I am not sure why the geniuses at Microsoft did not program the default location to be in the Documents folder instead).

You will see all errors in salmon color, warnings in lemon and information in white.  Go through and make adjustments accordingly.

Problem Steps Recorder

Record steps to the point of failurepsr.exe

It is often difficult and hard to explain exactly what the problem is you are encountering when using a program on your computer to the experts like folks at belldeX.  The ideal thing for the expert to help you would be to remote in and see for themselves.  Sometimes this may not be possible.  You can actually record the steps in Windows 7 and above by a neat tool called Problem Steps Recorder (PSR).  To launch it simply type “psr” in the Winodws Search Programs and Files and hit enter.

Once it is launched, click on record and go through the steps until you see the problem.  At this point stop recording and then save the recorded event and send it as an attachement to be viewed by the person who will help you.

Windows 9

belldeX, our Tucson-based company is not in the business of feeding the rumor mill.  This however, is from confirmed sources.  Hopefully, you heard it here first: Windows 9 is coming soon and here is a screenshot to prove it.



If you remember the disaster with the rolling out of Vista, you know there wasn’t a whole lot of enthusiasm withe Windows 8 either.  Most IT professionals have shunned it, though the jury is still out there.  “Start” button is back with the Windows 9 which should cause a lot of jubilation for those who missed it.

Windows 9 is said to be released in the fall of 2015, but this could very well get extended to the Winter and beyond, simply judging by past roll-outs.  We have historically been one of the evaluators of new Microsoft OS and we expect to “test” out Windows 9 before it its release.  Stay tuned and and we will keep you informed of new developments.


Multi-function calculator

Windows Calculator is not boring anymore


If you have used Windows all your life, you think Windows calculator is a boring basic function calculator.  If you are tech savvy, you most likely have discovered Scientific calculator as well.  But this changed in Windows 7 and above, like the Windows 8.  The new calculator is now capable of a host of features like (unit conversion, temperature, dates, mortgage, fuel economy (MPG) and more).  Just click on the View and choose your mode and type.

Wi-Fi without Wi-Fi

Free Wireless Access Point (WAP)

Free Wi-Fi
Sample Connectify configuration

You have Internet connection and your computer is connected to it via an Ethernet cable and others in the household or in your small office have to connect to it via a switch and expensive cabling because you don’t have a Wi-Fi.  Right?  Wrong.  You do.  There is a hidden treasure in your Windows 7 that allows your computer to behave as a WAP.  In your Control Panel > Network Connections, you will see one called Microsoft Virtual WiFi Miniport adapter.  This is a handy feature, especially in places where Wi-Fi is charged per connection.  You can turn your computer or laptop into a hotspot and everyone in your party can access the Internet.  To utilize this feature, you do need to download a free connctivity program or find something similar on the web.