Sunday, December 7, 2014

Yearly Router Updates

How to: Update your Router's Firmware once or twice a year for improvements, bugfixes and security patches.  Upgrades take about 5 minutes and on most devices, the process is semi-automatic.

See this article for how to update older Linksys Routers:  LinkSys WRT110 Firmware Upgrade.

Once or twice a year, you should peek at your routers to see if they need a BIOS or Firmware update.  I typically look once or twice per year and the newer the device, the more frequently I look.  After about three years, your vendor will likely have abandoned the device and looking for updates may not be worth the bother.

You may have one or two routers in your network, depending on how your wireless is setup.  A common scenario is a DSL or Cable Modem, connected to a secondary router.  For example, the first is a Cable or DSL modem, followed by a Wireless router, which connects all of the devices.  Illustrated below is a Century Link DSL router and a Linksys Wireless router.  In a simpler network, you may have a single Cable or DSL router, with your computer plugged directly into the router.




Updating Firmware - Prerequisites

You will need the following, for each device, in order to update firmware:

A.  The IP Address of each router (see below)


Finding IP Addresses: If you do not remember the IP Addresses of your devices, they are easy to find. 

From a DOS/Command Prompt, type this command:
tracert www.google.com

The command takes a minute to run.

The first one or two responses are your devices.  If you have a Wireless router, as illustrated above, this will be the first line, and your DSL/Cable Modem will be the second device.  If you only have one device, look at only the first-returned line.

For example, in my house, my Linksys Wireless is 192.168.100.1
My DSL modem is 192.168.0.1


B.  You will also need the administrative login/password for each device.  Typically, the login is  "admin" or "administrator", followed by a password you setup when the device was first installed.  You did write them down, didn't you?  (The administrative logins may be different than the password you use to authenticate to the wireless.) 

If you do not have the passwords, they are not recoverable and the network needs to be rebuilt.  See these articles:
Installing a Netgear ADSL Modem
Linksys EA2700 Router - First Time Setup

With the IP address and the Administrative account, you can begin the upgrade.


Upgrade Steps:

You must be in the local network to perform these steps, this cannot be run from a remote location.  You can update either the Cable Modem/DSL Router or the downstream wireless router, in either order.  This example demonstrates a Linksys EA2700 Wireless Router.

1.  From any browser, on a wired or wireless connection, open a browser.  Type the IP address you wish to update into the URL line.  For example, to connect to my Linksys Wireless router, type "192.168.100.1"

2.  At the login screen, type your administrative credentials (password). Often, on many devices, the user-id is blank and all you need is the password.

3.  In "Router Settings," Connectivity, click "Check for Updates".  Your router may be different.


If an update is found, it will take several minutes to download and install.  The process is automatic and your router may even to offer to do this automatically, as soon as you administratively login.

DSL/Cable Modem Updates

Your DSL/Cable Modem may also have an upgrade.  Follow these same steps, using the second IP address.   As a caution, my DSL modem warns that an update may force you to re-configure the device, although this has not happened.  Have your configuration settings handy, just incase.  See this related article: Installing a Netgear ADSL Modem


Keyliner related articles for first-time setups:
Installing a Netgear ADSL Modem
Linksys EA2700 Router - First Time Setup

Old routers upgrade steps:  Linksys WRT110 Firmware Upgrade.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Using Google Authenticator for 2-step authentication

Using "Google Authenticator" for 2-step authentication - This is a new Google feature from the App-store.  This is faster than a regular SMS text message.

I have long been a proponent of Google's two-factor authentication.  With this, you login to Google services (email, gdrive, etc.) using a normal User-ID and password.  Then, a few seconds later, Google sends a text message to your cell.  In a secondary screen, type the SMS numeric code and you are logged in.





Benefit:

Even if your credentials are stolen or lost, nobody can login to your account
You cannot be hacked
Works with all cell phones, smart and non-smart
This is highly recommended and very secure

Setup Google's 2-step verification here:  Two-step verification
(Do this before installing this article's recommended application) 




Improved with "Google Authenticator"

Two-factor, two-step authentication is recommended and using SMS text messages is nice, but if you have a smart phone, install the "Google Authenticator" app and bypass the SMS text message.  New codes are generated directly on your phone.



  • This is faster than an SMS
  • The code is immediately available; no need to wait for the SMS
  • Works even if outside of cellular or SMS services 
  • Get the code before or after you start logging in
  • Requires a smart phone

Install the app from your favorite app store (Android, Apple) and follow the instructions.  This requires you already have two-factor (2-step) authentication, from above.   

The code changes every 60 seconds and is unique to your phone and your account.

What if you don't have your phone?  You can't login.  However, when you first enable two-step authentication, Google generates a short list of emergency codes.  Store these in an email or some other location, separate from Google Services.  If you permanently lost your phone, and are not replacing it, use the emergency codes to login and then disable 2-step authentication.


If you use Microsoft Services, they also support their own form of a two-factor authentication and they have their own application.  Microsoft's program works a little differently and in some respects, it is better -- but requires you must be on a cellular network.  If you use both Microsoft and Google, you will use two separate applications.  When Facebook has theirs, then you will need three.

Related Articles:
Gmail Protection Steps
GRC's Password Haystack (why a complicated password is not enough)

Friday, October 31, 2014

Webcam missing in Windows 8.x

Solution for Webcam missing in Windows 8.1

On a Laptop, the webcam mysteriously disappeared, probably after a Windows update.  There were no indications the video camera was even an available option; there were no indications the camera ever existed.  In this case, the video camera (webcam) used to work with no issues, then one day, the camera was not found. 

Here are the steps to re-install the Video Webcam software.  Likely, the webcam drivers are built into the operating system and there are no drivers to download. 

These steps were tested in Windows 8.1.

Symptoms:
  • Control Panel, Device Manager does not show a webcam or "integrated webcam"
  • Control Panel, Device Manager does not show an "Imaging Devices" section
  • Skype, Google Plus Video Conferencing, and other programs that rely on the video camera show "no video device available" or "no video hardware"
  • Note: The machine does not have a webcam driver to install; vendor likely does not provide drivers or driver installation packages (this is normal)

Solution:

On most modern laptops, especially those with Intel motherboards, including Dell Inspiron 1520 laptops, HP laptops, etc., webcam drivers are not supplied and cannot be installed from the vendor.  Instead, the drivers are built into the operating system.  No additional software needs to be downloaded or installed. 

1.  Open the Windows Control Panel, "Device Manager"  (assuming View by Small Icons)

(if in Category View, click "Hardware and Sound".  In Devices and Printers, click Device Manager)

2. Scroll near the bottom of the list, expand "Universal Serial Bus Controllers"

3.  If any item shows a yellow bang (exclamation), especially if "USB Root Hub", right-mouse-click the item, choose "Uninstall"  (This is safe to do on any and all yellow-banged items).

4.  While highlighting "Universal Serial Bus Controllers" (or highlighting any other sub-section or item in the control panel), choose top menu Action, "Scan for Hardware Changes".  You must have an item selected.

Hardware detection will take a minute or so. 
In this instance, a reboot is probably not required; it will prompt if needed.

The webcam should re-install itself.  There will be no obvious indication.

Confirm:

In Control Panel, Device Manager, note a new section "Imaging Devices".  Note internal device, "Integrated Webcam"

Testing:

Launch any program that uses the webcam.  For example, G+ video conferencing, Skype, or your vendor-supplied video or movie program.  The device should now be working.


If you continue to have problems, consider the following:

A.  From the laptop vendor's support site, download and install update BIOS software; then repeat the steps above.  This step is recommended for all computers, even if you are not having this problem. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Spigen Slim Armor Phone Case - Review


Spigen Slim Slim Armor phone case for the HTC M8 - Review.

After trying several different cases for the HTC One M8, this is my favorite and is recommended.  It is functional, gracefully-made and attractive.


The case is made up of two parts, an interior rubber-like shell (black), with a decorative metal-like outer casing.  The metal (actually a hard plastic, but I thought it was metal for the longest time) is understated and classy, matching the contours of the original phone perfectly and comes in several colors.  I happen to like the gun-metal grey.


 
Ports and Buttons:

The power and volume rockers are molded into inner shell, and oddly, are more solid and work better than the buttons on the original phone.  They protrude more than the original phone -- and this is good because I can now easily tell which side is up just by feel.  Being more prominent and tactile, the buttons are easier to use.

The USB and headphone ports are exposed along the phone's bottom edge, easily accessible.  This is an improvement over a previously-tried Otter-brand "commuter" case.

The case has two narrow strips along the top and bottom edge of the metal that expose the phone's internal antenna, a well-thought feature.


The only drawback to the case is the phone's top-infrared transmitter is covered.  If you intend to use the phone to control your TV and Stereo, this case will not work.  The SIM cards are covered, but the case can be removed in a few seconds and has not been a bother.

Price:

The price is right:  Amazon sells this for $20 -- half the cost of a similar Otter case -- and I believe this case is better and slimmer.

Shameless link to Amazon:
www.Amazon.com/Spigen Slim Armor

The same design is available for other phone models.


Changes:

If I could make any recommendations for this case, it would be the following.  Although the inner-shell is a soft-rubber-like plastic, I wished it were softer.  Dropped phones always land on the corner and it would be nice to have just a little more give.

Secondly, as stunning as the metal accoutrement is, I wished it had a little texture -- perhaps faint grip lines cut into the outside edges of the metal -- just something quiet, right where it bends around the edges of the phone.






Saturday, September 27, 2014

Windows 7 Update Hangs and how to Fix

Problem:  Windows Update (Windows 7 Update) hangs.  Shows Downloading xx updates (0KB total, 0% complete).  Windows update hangs with 0% complete.


Symptoms:
  • Windows update hangs at the downloading step with no progress.
  • Progress bar does not move
  • Hangs, even if you wait a long time
  • Likely, this is the first update that you have tried to run in a long time; perhaps an old image was restored.



This article is now obsolete.
See this newer Keyliner Article:  Windows Update Hangs




Possible Solution:

1.  Confirm the machine is on the Internet.  Probably the easiest way to test is to launch Google and do a search on anything. Do not skip this check.  Confirm you can actually reach the net.

2.  Wait some period of time (~15 or 20 minutes), giving background processes time to download updates.  Be patient, even if no activity.

3.  Then click the Start Menu, Shutdown

If you see a "Shield" and "Install Updates then shutdown your computer", Windows needs to update the Windows Update program itself and I believe this does not show on the status bar.



4.  Gracefully shutdown and restart the computer.

When the machine begins to shut-down, you will see "Please do not power off or unplug your machine.  Installing update xx of yy.

5.  Re-open Windows Update and attempt again.

If there are no pending updates

Windows Update may appear to hang (showing 0% downloaded), but if you wait (again, 15 or 20 minutes), the update should begin, with percentage changes showing.  This is especially noticeable on large office Service Packs. Be patient.

Without pending updates, a simple reboot has helped in several instances.  I have noticed on some older-imaged machines, multiple reboots are required and after each reboot, Windows Update finds even more updates to apply.


If these steps fail:

Here are some technical items to use:

1.  Open and run the Microsoft Windows Update Troubleshooter

Link: 
http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows7/Open-the-Windows-Update-troubleshooter


2.  Restart the Windows Update Services and clear the Update Cache.  This is safe to do at any time.  Follow these steps:

Start a command prompt (DOS prompt) as administrator (other-mouse-click the Command Prompt icon, select Run As Administrator).  Type these commands to reset the Windows update services:

net stop wuauserv
net stop bits
net start wuauserv
net start bits
exit
(then Reboot the computer and attempt the Windows Update again)

3. Consider running the System File Checker if you think your machine was compromised by a virus. 

Start a command prompt (DOS Prompt) as administrator.  Type this command to run the Windows System File Check (which can repair damaged system files):

sfc /scannow
(Type exit, then Reboot the computer when done)

4.  Consider re-installing the Windows Update Agent.  I have not needed this, but here is the Microsoft link.  This is safe to do.:

http://support2.microsoft.com/kb/946928/en-us



Comments:
I see this problem particularly when the workstation has been off the network for a long time or if Windows Update is set to manual and has not run in a long time. 

For example, with a laptop, I restored an image from 2 years ago, after pulling the machine out of moth-balls.  I found Windows Update hung multiple times and required 7 different reboots, as it applied 1.7G of patches and was finally caught-up.

I have seen other articles on the Net, suggesting flushing cache, registry hacks, disk-repairs and scan disks.  So far, that all has been nonsense.  A quiet reboot after waiting has worked for me on several different machines. 


Monday, August 18, 2014

Optimizer Pro Virus Removal; iStart123 Virus Removal

How to: Remove Optimizer Pro; iStart123 Virus Removal


This article has been replaced.  See this improved Keyliner article:
Virus Cleanup Steps


> Historical

My daughter arrived at a website and got a popup, "A new version of Firefox is available.  Update now?".  She clicked yes and got two viruses - Optimizer Pro and iStart123.  If she were running IE or Chrome, the message would change to match that browser.  





Additionally, I suspect, but did not research or prove, but a new Video Plugin was also installed, known as "New Video Player", or "Video Player", or as "VPlay".  This is also a virus

As I had warned her in the past, if you arrive at a website and an unexpected message appears, no matter how legitimate, immediately close your browser; do not click Yes or No or even "X". As soon as she clicked Yes/Install, she knew it was a mistake, but the damage was done.



This article discusses how to remove these two viruses.  The same steps are used for both, with a minor difference for iStart123.  You will find the steps tedious, with some redundancy, but this brings the best results.


1. Pre-Download files.
On a non-infected computer, download the following programs and burn them to a CD (steps on how to burn are not detailed here; if needed, ask a knowledgeable friend to help).

Ideally, burn downloaded files to a CD -- not a pen drive; media should be Read-Only; this keeps some viruses from infecting the downloaded software and this is a reasonable precaution.  If a second PC is not available, the download may or may not work on the infected machine.  Some viruses are able to block downloads and can replace them with their own infected copies.

Files:
A.  Download MalwareBytes: Malwarebytes
Choose the free edition.  Save to the CD.

B.  DownLoad SuperAntiSpyware: superAntiSpyware
Choose the free edition; this is a legitimate program, despite its flaky name.   Save to the CD.


2. Disconnect the infected computer from the Internet.

* Important: Unplug the Cat-5 network cable or press your laptop's function key/other key to disable wireless (many viruses calm-down when not active on the internet)


3.  Install and run the MalwareBytes program.

Even though you downloaded the most recent version, there are database updates that should happen and the program will complain that it can't update (because you disconnected the workstation from the Internet).  This is OK.  Continue with a full system scan.

The scan will take an hour or more, depending on your data and disk.
Allow MalwareBytes to clean up anything it finds.  It will do a good job, but will miss some of the OptimizerPro on the first pass. 


4.  After the scan and cleanup, Reboot. 
If prompted to reboot (you likely will be asked), reboot, but leave the machine *off* the Internet.


5.  Open the Control Panel, "Programs and Features" (Add Remove Programs) and uninstall MalwareBytes (it conflicts with the next step). 

Reboot if prompted. 
Again, stay off the Internet.


6.  Install and launch SuperAntiSpyWare.
I always like to run multiple virus scans, from different (trusted) vendors.  Often, one company will find something the other does not.  In this case, SuperAntiSpyware (as of 2014.08) will find something missed by MalwareBytes.

It too will complain about not being able to update its database.  Ignore and run a full-scan.

When done, at least on my machine, it will find a few additional vestiges of OptimizerPro (and it may find other viruses that were missed by MalwareBytes). 

Allow it to clean all that it finds.


7.  Uninstall SuperAntiSpyWare.

8.  Enable your wireless or Internet connection.  Do not launch any browser sessions.


9.  Re-Install MalwareBytes.

This time, allow it to update its database/signatures. 
Do yet another Full-System Scan.  Yes, I know this is somewhat redundant and I did this out of an abundance of caution.  The previous steps likely killed the virus, but the newest database update may catch more on this (or other) viruses.

10.  After this final scan, I recommend un-installing MalwareBytes for a second time.

(I tend to use this program as a utility and have not allowed it to remain installed).  You should not leave this program and your other, normal anti-virus installed at the same time.  See the closing notes, below.

11.  If your browser's home page was hijacked to "iStart123" (see second illustration, "Quick Start", at the top of this article), continue with these next steps. 

If your browser was not hijacked, you are done and the Optimizer Pro virus should be removed -- Malwarebytes saves the day.



iStart123 Additional Steps

MalwareBytes and SuperAntiSpyware cleaned up the OptimizerPro and the iStart123 virus, but neither program completely cleaned the iStart123 hijack.  Follow these additional steps:

A.  On your Windows 7 or Windows 8 Desktop, locate all browser icons  (if you have IE, Firefox, or Chrome, all three icons will be damaged.



B.  For each desktop *or* taskbar icon, "other-mouse-click" the icon and choose "Properties".  Note the end of the Target field.  After the (.... .exe") name and closing quote, if you find a bunch of "crap" (numbers, letters, punctuation, etc.); this is the hijack.

Remove the appendages, removing all text after the .exe's closing quote.
You will have to do this on every Start Menu, Task Bar, and desktop icon that launches the browser(s).

In Windows 8, some of these icons are hidden (such as on the Start Page).  From a Tile, select "Open File Location".  Then, within that folder, "other-mouse-click" the shortcut and select Properties -- cleaning up from there.  Exact steps not detailed in this article, but these are standard Windows icons and tiles.

C.  Alternately you can do the following -- and in many respects, this is easier than editing each icon.  Fix one icon for each type of program (IE, Firefox, Chrome), as described above (usually on the standard desktop).

D.  Then, fearlessly delete (unpin from Start Menu, Unpin from the Tile Menu) all other browser icons, leaving the one repaired icon.  Then, from the Repaired icon, "other-mouse-click" and choose "Pin to Start" and "Pin to TaskBar" -- rebuilding the icons.

This completes the cleanup for iStart123.


Additional Comments:

My daughter was running MSE (Microsoft Security Essentials - the free virus scanner for Windows).  It clearly failed to detect this virus -- but on the other hand, she did click "Yes" (I approve - UAC approval), allowing the virus to install -- giving it full, administrative access to the computer.

Not recorded in the steps above, a full, MSE after-the-infection-scan failed to detect either of these viruses.  This saddens me.

Once again, MalwareBytes deserves credit for fixing the computer.  And even if you do not leave the program installed, they deserve a donation for a fine product.

Your comments are welcome.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Solution: Excel YYYY Dates show as 1905

Problem: Excel date formatting YYYY shows date as 1905.  YYYY-MM dates show as 1905.

I have re-arranged this article, showing the final solution(s) at the top.  More detailed explanations follow.

Assume Cell A3 contains the date:  08/13/2014 21:21 and is formatted as Date Value.
Notice cell D3, which is supposed to show only they year, shows as 1905 when it clearly should be 2014, 


D3 was improperly assembled from a "sub-date," using a formula =B3 *and* it was formatted as a date-cell.  This is a mistake. 

Do not use intermediate or sub-dates for any date-calculation or format.  Always point to a full-date cell.  


Most people are trying to format a cell as 2013-08  (YYYY-MM) and they are trying to assemble the constituent parts "YYYY" + "MM" to get the result.  This will fail.  


YYYY Solution as Text:

In the last cell, D3, where you want a simple "YYYY" result, use this text-formula, where cell A3 is a date-cell.  See the next section for a YYYY-MM example.

  • Always point =Text() to real date  (Cell A3) - never to a sub-date; 
  • Format the YYYY cell as "general" or "text" -- *not as date* 
  • Do not point to intermediate cells, such as =Year()
  • A3 can be formatted in any date-format
In the top example, cells B3 (YYYY) and C3 (MM)
are not needed for intermediate =Text(  ) work
-- using them will lead you astray.

* By doing it, all YEARS will sort correctly,


YYYY-MM Solution as Text:

If you want cell D3 to show YYYY-MM, do the following:
  •  Always point =Text() formulas to real date  (Cell A3), never to a sub-date;
    Do not point to intermediate cells, such as =Year()
     
  • In cell D3, where you want the answer, assemble the YYYY-MM formula:

    =Text(A3,"YYYY")&"-"&Text(A3,"MM")

    where cell A3 is a real date-cell (regardless of how formatted).
     
  • Format the YYYY-MM column as "general" or "text"; *not as date* 


Other Possible Solutions:

Using intermediate sub-dates will work with these other formulas (see first two green), but involves another cell to calculate the intermediate values. 
Click for larger view


Note cell D6 forces the first day of the month ( ,1), then uses Excel's cell formatting to show only YYYY-MM.  This preserves the "date-ness" of the cell, but it still required sub-dates.


Click for larger view


How does 1905 happen?
Imagine a pivot table where the dates need to be categorized by Year-Month.

For example, if today's date was 2014.08.13, and you needed a column header displayed as "2014-08".  The trouble is the formula displays the year as 1905.

For example:
Consider the following, where a valid date in Column A (August, 2014), is broken down into two constituent parts:

 where:
  • A real date (e.g. =now() or any other date) is in cell A3.  The date must be a real date and not a text-string date.  If you can format it as different date-styles, it is a real date.
     
  • To illustrate, the year and the month are shown as separate "sub-date" formulas, where

    cell B3 displays the date as a Year using =Year()and
    C3 displays the Month, using =Month()
     
    These may be useful, but not for the formulas in this article.
     
  • In the last cell, D3, where you want the answer, attempt to assemble a new date (e.g. "2014-08") by using the intermediate date values "2014" and "08/8", as in
    "2014" & "-" & "08"
    ....  or

    =Text(B3, "YYYY") & "-" & Text(C3, "MM"))      shows as 1905-01
     
  • Formatting D3 as "Custom Date - YYYY-MM," shows the year as "1905-01". 
 
How to properly build YYYY-MM

For this article, the goal is to build a YYYY-MM date. 
(Update: See illustration above for other possible formulas)

Intermediate Year and Month columns, assembled as YYYY-MM, will fail with a 1905 date
(see the red formula, illustrated below):

Both of these fail:

=Text(B3, "YYYY") 
=Text(B3,"YYYY")&"-"&Text(C3,"MM")


The key:
Do *not* point date calculations at sub-date fields (the red-squared formula).
Instead:
Use the original (true) date for the assembly (see the blue formula). 
Format the formula with either General or Text, do not use a Date format

=Text(A3, "YYYY") & "-" & Text(A3, "MM")


Alternate: Using a Custom Format Picture Clause:

Alternately, ignoring everything above, format the cell with custom-date format.  This preserves the "date-ness" of the data -- but has the drawback that the entire date, including the day and time survive, even though the 'displayed format' only shows Year-Month:

Click for larger view
where:
  • Highlight one or more cells.  Other-mouse-click, choose "Format Cells"
  • From the Category, choose "Custom"
  • In the "type" field (illustrated above in black highlight), type "YYYY-MM" (no quotes)

In the case of a Pivot table, this may not work for you -- the Pivot will still see all the individual dates and times (their granular dates and times) from the original data and will not group them properly, still seeing the days, not the months.



Why 1905?

Excel stores all dates as a sequence or serial number, which represents the number of days since Jan-1, 1900 or Jan-1, 1905 (Macintosh)  See this Microsoft article.

For example, the date used in the examples above has a decimal number "41864.92", where the fraction (".92") represents a fractional-part of a day -- e.g. the Time.  That is, 2014 is 114 Years * 365 = 41,000.

When the year is the only part of the date calculation, years like 2012, 2013, 2016, etc., will always be 1905 because the serial number ('2014') is well below the current date's 41,000 number:




In other words, when you convert a cell to =Year(), with a result of "2014", you are saying two-thousand fourteen days since 01-01-1900 -- which happens to be sometime in 1905.  The year can vary, depending on an obscure base-date option in Excel and if Macintosh; I do not have details on these, but I would guess 1909.


Other Keyliner Excel Articles:

How to use Excel VLookup
Return First Word, Last Word, SuperTrim
Parsing City State Zip
Writing your own User Defined Functions in Excel

Sunday, July 20, 2014

How to Generate a QR Code


How to generate a QR Code

QR Codes (Quick Response) allow a smartphone to scan a code and take them directly to a website, without having to type the URL address.  The code can store other types of text data, including coupons, contact information, phone numbers, etc. These act as a convenience for your users.

http://www.keyliner.blogspot.com
QR Codes only store textual information and most commonly take you to a webaddress, youtube video, or an email.  These are "static" addresses and cannot run programs or scripts - in other words, it is not executable.  But be aware that the site you arrive at may do its own tracking or run scripts -- but this is no different than arriving at any webpage with your browser.

To the right is a QR code generated free by kaywa.com and it takes you to this blog, keyliner.blogspot.com.  To read the code, download any bar-code reader for your smartphone or tablet and you can scan this code now, directly from the screen.  On Android, I like to use "Barcode Scanner" by Zxing Team (available in the App store).  Kaywa also has a code-reading App, which I have not tested.


Steps to Generate a Code:

I have used kaywa.com and VistaPrint (Business Card printing) to generate QR codes.   This document shows kaywa.com.  At the bottom of this article are other references.  Also, Wikipedia has a good article on these types of codes.

1.  Open a browser session to

qrcode.kaywa.com

2.  Choose "URL"  (Static, not dynamic)

3.  Click "Generate"

4.  "Other-mouse-click" the code, choose "Save As"
      Save the image as a .PNG


5.  Test

Use Windows Explorer and find the image.

Double-click to preview.
Scan the app with your smartphone or tablet to confirm the address.

6.  Reprint all of your business cards and marketing literature to include this code.


Note:  The first time I generated the code, it took me to a site "Congratulations: You have won a free prize".  I returned to Kaywa.com and re-generated the code and three others and did not see this problem.  I am unsure why this happened and at first thought Kaywa might be nefarious, but I see no further indications of problems and the site and their product comes recommended by others.


Mobile vs Desktop Sites:

If you are using a QR code to arrive at a URL, choose a URL designed for a mobile app, because only mobile devices will be scanning the code.

For example, arriving at http://www.keyliner.blogspot.com  (this blogging tool), it will automatically route a smart-phone to a site designed for a smaller screen.  But the same address, scanned from a larger tablet, arrives at the desktop site.  Your website may work differently.  For example, the main landing page for a desktop browser might be http://mysite.com, while a mobile device might need to arrive at http://mysite.com/mobile; use the mobile site if not automatic.


Commercial Use:

For a monthly fee, Kaywa.com can generate something they call a "Dynamic" code. With this, the vendor can track your code, how often clicked, etc., and can re-direct the visitor to a different address of your choosing -- all without reprinting the code or marketing literature.  In other words, you could, in August, direct everyone to your August Sales campaign and then in September, change to a different address, with its own tracking.  For commercial ventures, this idea is recommended.

With their other commercial products, you can have the same QR route iphone users to a different site than an Android user - for example, you could route them directly to the App Store, depending on their device.

QR Code Differences:

I returned to VistaPrint to build new business cards and noticed they added a QR Code feature (keyliner reviewed).  I found it interesting that their generated code is different than kaywa's and I do not know why; it may be different versions of the QR standard or different error corrections.  All indications are the two codes go directly to my selected destination and do not pass-through either of these companies.  Here are the two codes:


Related links:
qrcode.kaywa.com (as described this article)
delivr.com/qr-code-generator Untested by keyliner
qurify.com/en Untested by keyliner
VistaPrint Business Cards

Wikipedia article on QR Codes
Structure
Layout

Western Digital My Cloud - Streaming Music

Western Digital My Cloud - Streaming Music.



I bought the Western Digital "My Cloud" drive for backups and found it is a capable and useful device (see this article:  "Western Digital My Cloud Review").  to my surprise, it also acts as an interesting music, video and photo-streaming device.  I can get to my music and photos from all of my internet devices, including my phone and tablet.  This has been entertaining and convinient. 


Streaming Music from the Cloud Drive
has been unexpectedly fun

In the past, I stored all music on a laptop, making the laptop a particularly large MP3 player.  Now I store all of my music on the Western Digital drive and use my phone, tablet or PC to play the content.  This works at my office, in coffee shops, and at home. 



Benefits:
  • Listen to your entire music library without a PC
  • Listen from your Smart Phone, tablet, laptop, PC, or Internet-aware TV
  • Up to 3TB 
  • No need to synchronize or download music to each device
  • DLNA compliant
Drawbacks:
  • You must be on either your local network or on the Internet
  • I do not recommend running over a cellular network (expensive data-plan)
     
  • The WD "Cloud" app is a primitive music player, only allowing you to pick a folder (think album) and play the music within.  You cannot pick genres or multiple albums simultaneously.  It also does not show album thumbnails, allow you to mark favorites, etc.  However, in practice, this is ok; it is easy enough to pick a folder, but it is weak.  Update: 2014.08 - the latest version supports building a play list.
Unresolved issues:
  • Windows Media Player (Windows 8 and probably older versions) are having troubles mounting the remote library.  Although I added the \\SAN\public\Music folders to the list of scanned libraries, it has yet to index all of the albums, for reasons unknown and each time I load the program, it grabs more of them.
  • The WD Cloud App for the PC does not play music correctly; it only plays a single-track.  The same program on other devices works well, as described below.  Instead, use Windows Media Player.  Update: 2014.08 - the latest version can now play multiple tracks from a play list, within the app and you no longer have to use Windows Media Player.  However, this is still a relatively simple feature - but workable.
     
  • You still have to use a PC to digitize Album/CD's and migrate them to the Streaming Folders.  Details, below.

 Regardless of the drawbacks and issues, it works fairly-well, especially on my Android devices.  Apple devices should work equally well.


Streaming Setup:

Instructions assume a Windows Desktop and Android or apple tablets/phones.  (For general instructions, from the WD System Tray icon, choose Learning Center, How To, "Stream HD Content" or go directly to this WD site:  Stream HD Content)


1.  Get the drive operational (where the Dashboard works and you have installed the software recommended in this Keyliner article: Western Digital Cloud Drive Review.

2.  Launch the Dashboard and enable Media Streaming

From the System Tray's icon, open the "Dashboard" or alternately, open a browser session to http://wdMyCloud  (or as you named your drive.  Mine is http://wolfhouseSan.

a.  From the Dashboard, choose Settings, then from the left-nav, "Media"

Click for Larger View

b.  Turn Media Sharing On

c.  Optional:  Examine the drive's Twonky Services -- especially if you have multiple streaming devices. 

WD is using a service called Twonky for streaming.  Although not listed with the vendor's documentation, open this session in a browser to look at your drive's settings:

http://yourSANname:9000    (http://myWDCloud:9000)

For example:
http://wolfhousesan:9000   or

http://192.168.200.200:9000  (where your IP address will be different)

Confirm this responds.  The default settings should be adequate.


4.  Copy your music Library to the Cloud Drive:

a.  Using Windows Explorer, locate your Music library, typically "This PC/Music"  (or in my case, C:\Data\Music).  Highlight all sub-folders (the albums/artist), select Copy.

b.  In Network (Network Neighborhood), tunnel to your SAN drive:

\\myWDCloud\Public\Shared Music\Uploaded

c.  Paste into the Uploaded folder (ignore the "Mirrored" folder).  See Windows Media Player notes below for other information.

The initial copy will take time.  The DLNA Streaming Service (Twonky) will automatically detect the files and catalog. 


Playing Music

To Play Music from a Tablet or Phone:

a.  From your tablet, install the WD Cloud Application.
b.  Open the App, authenticate (login) to your drive.
c.  Tunnel to the Public\Shared Music\Uploaded folder
d.  Tunnel to an (album) folder
e.  Double-click any (MP3) song in the library; it will start playing


To Play Music from a PC using My Cloud App:

The WD Cloud App behaves similarly to a tablet, as described above, except, as-of this writing, the WD Cloud Application "My Cloud" will play only one track at-a-time from an album folder.  It will not move automatically to the next track, making the feature useless.  -- Update: 2014.08:  This has been fixed and it now plays the entire album or multiple albums against a 'play list'.  Version 1.0.541 or newer.
 

To Play Music from a PC Windows Media Player:

This documentation assumes Windows 8, Windows Media Player 12.  Older versions are similar.  I no longer recommend this step and would rather use the WD My Cloud software.  Regardless, here are the steps.

a.  Launch Windows Media Player

b.  From the top-menu, >Organize, Layout, [x] Show menu bar

c.  Select File, Manage Libraries, Music.  Click "Add".  Tunnel to Network, your SAN, then tunnel to this location:  Public\Shared Music\Uploaded, Selecting the "Uploaded" folder.  For example, mine shows as "\\wolfhouseSAN\Public\Shared Music\Uploaded"

d.  The program will detect the albums and add to its database.  I have had troubles in this area, where Media Player does not see all the albums.  Reloading the program several times, seemed to have fixed the problem.


e.  Once loaded, albums will play from Media Player normally.


To RIP music directly to the SAN (Windows Media Player):

Note:  At my house, my main music machine is a laptop, which is used to RIP music CD's and it copies them to a local drive, local Windows Media Player library.  This is the library I copied to the SAN. You can change the write-location with these steps:

* Launch Media Player and expose the top-menu:  >Organize, Layout, [x] Show Menu Bar
* Select Tools, Options, [RIP Music]
* Change the Rip Music Location, choosing the (Browse, Network) SAN Upload folder

At my house, this is "\\wolfhouseSAN\Public\Shared Music\Uploaded

* Recommended:  Change RIP Settings to
- Format MP3,
- Choose High or Best Quality

However, at my house, I am comfortable in keeping my laptop as the main music Library, but this means manually syncing (uploading) new albums to the SAN drive (literally, copying the folder).  I may re-visit this idea in the future, but right now the laptop travels to places without a network connection and the library would be nice to have.  Besides, this acts as a backup. 

Using Itunes:

I have no current experience with Apple's music player.  The WD Learning Center, or better yet, the downloaded WD Cloud Drive Owner's manual, has more details on this topic.


Conclusions

Even with the shortcomings, I now use my tablet and phone to stream music.  I no longer have to download albums to these devices (unless I am off the grid).  It works well, especially on the local network.  On slower networks, the devices may hesitate while building the cache, as expected, but overall I have been happy.

The Western Digital My Cloud app is a poor program, but it will at least play the music.  I have enjoyed this feature.

Related Articles:
Keyliner: WD Cloud Review


Monday, June 30, 2014

Android Device Manager can locate a lost phone

How to: Android Device Manager can locate a lost phone and optionally can erase all data.  Updated 2014.07.

What to do if you lose your Android device?  Google provides a free service that works reasonably well, with some restrictions.

If lost, use this process before the device's battery gives out.  You should experiment with this once, prior to losing your phone to make sure everything works as expected. 

If you know the phone or tablet was stolen, you can use this service to wipe the device, provided you prepared for this ahead of time.


 Find the Device

1.  On your Android device, open Settings, Locations.  Enable "Google Location Services"  (This service is required and must be enabled prior to losing your phone.)

2.  Launch Android Device Manager by opening

http:\\android.com/devicemanager

3.  Login with your normal google/gmail account.
(This account is a given; you had to have an account in order to setup your phone on the Android App Store.)

Note: If you use Google's two-stage authentication (see this keyliner article: hack-proof Gmail), a second authentication code will be sent to your lost phone, which will not help you.  Use the emergency access codes when two-factor authentication was setup. 

4.  Once logged in, the map shows the approximate location of your phone.  If you own multiple devices, select your device from the pull-down menu.  The device must be on in order to calculate a location.


The webpage may prompt "Remotely Access this device?"  This can be enabled from the web-page without physical control of the phone -- but you must have Location Services enabled (step 1) prior to this test.

5.  Presuming you have already called the phone to see if a good Samaritan answered, click "Ring" and the phone will ring at its loudest volume for 5 minutes, regardless of the current volume setting.

With the indicated location, drive there and wrestle the phone from the person who found it.


Accuracy:

The service actually sends a message to the device and that means it must be connected to either the cellular or on a wireless Internet.  If both are turned off, or the phone is powered off (dead battery), you will not be able to locate the device.  Prior locations are not cached.

Accuracy with a wireless network appears to be about 25 meters (roughly the range of a wireless antenna).  If the phone is only on cellular, accuracy falls off to within 2000 meters (at least in my testing).  It did not appear to triangulate off multiple cell towers (in my area, there is only one near-by tower). 

Naturally, for my Nexus 7 tablet, wireless is the only option -- and if it is turned off, you will not be able to locate the device.

Finally, at my office, location requests are apparently blocked by the internal routers and no location data was available for any of my devices while in that building.  I have not thoroughly tested this issue. 


Wipe the Device

To remotely wipe the device, you must enable the feature and you must have physical access to the device prior to losing it.  In other words, do this now; there is no harm.

A.  From the device, open the All Apps menu (showing all applications installed). 
Open the "Google Settings" program; on newer Androids, this icon is grey.


B.  Choose either "Android Device Manager" (on older devices) or "Security"

C. Select "Allow remote factory reset"


D.  After wiping the phone, contact your phone carrier and have them disable the device from their end.


Missing Features

While all of the features on Android's Device Manager are well-and-good, there are some things this program should be able to do, but does not.
  • You should be able to set a keypad-lock on the login screen (you don't already have that set?), or change the current keypad lock number.  [Update: Starting 2013.09, Google now allows you to set or change a PIN, even if one was not set previously.  However, in order to use this feature, you must enable the "Allow Factory Reset", as described above. 

    This brings up an interesting idea.  You could disable the keypad/pin unlock on your phone, making the phone easier to use on a day-to-day basis and then, once the phone is lost, you can dial-in and setup a PIN as-needed.  But keep in mind, you can only do this if the phone is turned on and you are watching on these screens, making this a risky option.
     
  • You should be able to take two photos, one with the front-facing and another with the rear-facing camera, and have them sent to your email address the next time the phone turns on.
     
  • If the device is turned off, you can't issue a request to find its location the next time it turns on.  You have to be in the Device Manager website in real-time. 


Other things to do:

These suggestions are not part of the Android Device Manager, but should be done regardless.  Take steps to secure your phone and give honest people the ability to return the device, even if the battery is dead.  Here are my suggestions.



As big of a pain as this is, turn on the device's keypad lock screen and enter a key-code each time you turn on the phone.  Use at least a 5 digit pin.  Also, set the keypad timeout delay to 15 minutes, which makes this feature more tolerable. (Update:  I have recently turned on facial recognition and it has worked well.)

Without an unlock code, anyone with your phone has unfettered rights to your email, documents and the address book.  For example, on my phone, they could adjust the thermostat in my house, edit this blog, order movies on Netflix, change my newspaper subscription and buy movies and music.  In other words, pranksters would have a good time. 


If you have an older phone, open the battery compartment and leave a note telling them an alternate number they can call.  Obviously, do not use your own phone number.

On my smart phone, I used one of these slick label printers and printed an alternate number on the back of the phone.  I bought a black-text on clear background label so it looks professional.  This has actually helped to recover one of my lost phones. 


If your device allows, add a message to the lock screen, "Call if found".


Keywords: 
Find lost phone location services

Related:
hack-proof Gmail,

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Building an Animated GIF

How to: Build an animated GIF image using Paint Shop Pro (PSP) and Gickr.  Any good photo editor would work. 

Here are the steps used to build this animated GIF, and yes, I admit they are annoying.

Tools:
Any photo editor capable of saving GIF files. 
I used Paint Shop Pro X6 and
website:  www.gickr.com or www.picasion.com

Note: As of 2014.05.17, gickr.com was malfunctioning.  The Picasion.com site worked just as well and the site behaves identically to the other; they appear to be written by the same people.

Steps:

1.  Create a separate folder to hold the images.

2.  In the photo editor, create a blank image, no more than 300 pixels wide (450 if using the Gicker/Picasion's sites custom size).  In this example, 180x50px. 

With PSP, use top menu "Image, Canvas Size", set the width and height, in pixels.

3.  Draw the first frame and Save as a standard GIF (File, Save As)

Note: With Paintshop Pro, saving the GIF will fail with an error message.  On the SaveAs menu, choose Options, choose Version 89a, Non-Interlaced.  Then click Run Optimizer and accept all defaults.  Do this for each frame.

4.  Draw subsequent frames, doing a Save-As new name.  Up to 10 frames can be used.

In my example I pasted a larger image onto the small canvas and methodically moved it up and to the left, simulating motion.  For the effect, I added color shifting from light grey to black. 


Ideally, the last frames blends back into the first, making for a smoother loop.  I may revisit this in the future.In this example, 10 frames, at approximately 2K each, makes for a fairly-large image.  I have noted page-load speeds on this posting are slightly slower than normal.


5.  Once all frames are saved, go to www.Gickr.com  or www.picasion.com (both free sites) and assemble the final GIF; Paint Shop Pro X cannot build an animated GIF, but Corel's other product, VideoStudio can.., but there is no need for special tools with this site. 

Upload each frame, adding more pictures, as needed.  Illustrated Gickr.
Set the size to "Custom," matching the width of your original frame (e.g. 180px)
Speed "Fast" or "Faster", depending on which the site offers.

GICKR (nearly un-spellable); click image for a larger view; "X" to return

In the lower left corner, click Continue. 
It assembles the GIF, which can be then downloaded.

Of interest, Gickr can also grab video frames from YouTube, etc.

DC-3 Image: (C) BestVector IllustrationsOf.Com/209582

Monday, April 14, 2014

How to Tell if Windows 8.1 Update 1 is installed

How to tell if Windows 8.1 Update 1 is installed

Amazingly, Microsoft did not make it easy to tell which version of Windows 8.1 you are running.  Logically, you could see "Windows 8.1 Update 1" inside of My Computer, Properties, but alas, they did not do this.

Here are two ways to tell if the update was installed.

Of course, after May 13th, 2014, the issue may be moot: Microsoft is requiring all Windows 8 user to upgrade to this version before this date.  Keyliner has updated two machines so far, with no issues; the updates applied without a problem.

Method 1
Look in the upper right corner of the Tile screen.  If you see a power-indicator, you have Windows 8.1 Update 1 installed:

However, after update 2 or 8.2, 8.5, etc., ships, this will not be a reliable way to tell as all new versions are expected to have this same symbol.



Method 2:
Open Windows Control Panel, "Windows Update"
Click "View Update History" on the left-nav

Then painfully look for this KB number:  KB2919355



The Wish:
It would be nice to see the version number in the My Computer Properties screen.  Perhaps a future patch will fix this.



Other Keyliner Articles of Interest:
Windows 8.1 Slow Computer Shutdown and Restarts
Windows 8.1 CD Drive not Visible in Explorer
Delete Windows.old after upgrade, saving 1G of disk space
Everything you wanted to know about Windows 8.x Tiles

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Solution - Website Security Certificate Problem

Problem - There is a problem with this website's security certificate.  The security certificate presented by this website has expired or is not yet valid.  Certificate Error: Navigation Blocked

Likely Solution:
If numerous, disparate sites are displaying this error, the Date Time on the computer is likely incorrect.  In Windows, click the System Tray's Time (lower-right corner) and confirm the date. 

If the date was way off, the hardware's BIOS date and time is wrong.  Correcting the time above will reset it, but if it continues to fail, the motherboard's BIOS battery may be dying and may need to be replaced.  This is likely an issue only on older computers.


Date Time is Correct - Problem only with one site:

If the Certificate Error only occurs on a single site, consider the following:

1.  In Internet Explorer (or other browsers), click "Continue to this website (not recommended)"
2.  Click the Certificate Error to open the information window.
3.  Click View the Certificate. 

Examine the cert to see if it is reasonable -- does it belong to the site you are attempting to view.  If yes, click "Verify", "Accept" or "Install" the certificate, depending on your browser.  It could be a legitimate site has let its SSL certificate expire.

If not, you should be suspicious.  If this is an untrustworthy site, or a site you are not familiar with, you should not proceed to the site because something nefarious is going on.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Intenet DSL Speed Test Results

Internet (DSL) Speed Test Results - My CenturyLink 12mb DSL connection is, as expected, nowhere near my rated speed.

PC Magazine Online, is asking everyone to test their Internet speeds for statistical tracking and are providing a simple Flash-based test.

Click this link to test:  pcmag.speedtest.net
 
Keyliner is edited from a 12mbs link from Century Link, with my results:



Test Date:  2014.03.06  10:00PM
Download Speed:5.4mbs
Upload Speed: .67mbs
Grade: D-  (slower than 77% of the US)

I guess I'll be calling CenturyLink to ask them what I am paying for.   Your comments welcomed.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Windows 8.1 Fix for Slow Shutdown and Restart

After Windows 8.1 upgrade, PC is slow to shut down and slow to restart.  The PC is slow to wake from sleep.  PC will not wake from sleep.  The solution is sloppy, but works.  Updated 2015.06.

* Update:  2014.02.11 This article solves the slow-restart issue in Windows 8.1, but introduced a new problem where the machine does not wake from sleep.  Read below for details.

Symptoms:
  • Even on a fast i7 machine, shut-down and restart times are long - taking approximately 3 to 4 minutes.  Some readers have reported as long as 6 and 7 minutes.
     
  •  The PC may not wake from sleep.
  •  
  • You have a Qualcomm Atheros 802.11 b/g/n 2.4Ghz WIFI and Bluetooth adapter or a Dell-branded 1703 Bluetooth and Wireless card.
     
  • The machine can be a desktop or laptop
For this document, this problem was seen and resolved on a Dell XPS8700, but has been reported on other platforms and brands.  The issue is with the Bluetooth Wireless card.  On the Dell, it is the Dell-branded 1703 Bluetooth and Wireless card, but this is really a Qualcomm Atheros WIFI adapter and this appears to be the main problem. There is a secondary problem reported with the Intel Management Engine on Intel-branded motherboards. 

Solution 1: Update drivers
Solution 2: Update Intel Management Engine
Solution 3: Disable Bluetooth until a patched driver is released

Author's Note:  It is difficult to decide whether to blame Dell or not.  The XPS 8700 did not ship with Windows 8.1 and I can't blame Dell for not directly solving this problem.  On the other hand, as of this writing, 8.1 had been out for 6 months, and the machine should have shipped with the new OS by now.  Having a Dell-branded wireless card always gives me reason to pause; I'd bet a name-brand card would work without issue.

Solution 1:  Update Drivers:


Do Solution 1 and Solution2
If you still have troubles, consider Solution 3, which I initially used to solve this problems. 

Dell 1703 Wireless Drivers
Update: As of 2015.06
Version 10.0.0.301,A01  2014.12.29
http://downloads.dell.com/FOLDER02746931M/1/XPS-8700_Network_Driver_K19V9_WN32_10.0.0.301_A01.EXE

Formerly:
Version 10.0.0.263,A00  2013.10.08
http://www.dell.com/support/drivers/us/en/19/DriverDetails?driverID=YX1X0



This driver should work on both Dell and non-Dell machines, with this same Qualcomm Atheros card. 


When installing this driver, the status bar reaches 100%, and on my machine, the installation hung (especially if you chose the "repair" option).  Be patient for several minutes; there is no hourglass or other activity.  When you get bored, minimize all windows, looking for a reboot message.

If you can't find the message, do this:  On the Charm menu, select Settings, Power, Restart.  After a moment, the Restart will complain because a setup is still active.  Cancel the restart.  You should then see an installation message: "Setup was configured not to reboot..."; click Ok.  Then reboot manually.  This is sloppy work by Dell.  It gets even sloppier.


The first restart will be slow and will crash, offering to send diagnostics to Microsoft.  On restart, allow it to send the diagnostics, giving Dell and Qualcomm a reason to fix their horrible installation.  Once you restart, all should be well.

Confirm the driver version by opening Control Panel, Device Manager, Network, and checking the driver version.

Issue:
After applying this driver, I now see a problem where the PC will not wake from a deep sleep (say after 12 hours of no activity).  Oddly, it would wake from a sleep after (3 hours).  While in deep sleep, noted the powersupply-fan was active, CD Drive would open close, but no activity on the monitor -- indicating the PC is not really in a sleep or hibernation.  But you could not PING the machine's IP Address.  Ideally, it would be neat to remote-control the PC to see if it were really active, but without an active Network connection, I cannot do this.

All of this points to a weirdity with the network card.

To narrow the problem down, I did the following: In Device Manager, disabled the Dell 1703 Ethernet card, and Bluetooth features (disabling 4 separate devices).  Plugged the PC into a Wired connection.  After two days of testing, the PC wakes from sleep properly.  Something is wrong with the Dell/Qualcomm Wireless card. 

I could disable the power-save features on the network card, but this is non-standard and defeats the purpose of the power-saving modules and would probably mask the real problem.

Although this won't help any readers, the next test is to replace the wireless card with an Intel-branded wireless and test again.  I suspect this will work fine.




Solution 2: Slow Shutdown Times  (Intel Motherboards only)

In my testing, slower shutdown times have been partially traced to the Intel's "ME Management Engine driver for Intel NUC".  The Qualcomm wireless card driver made the most difference, but I also saw improvement here.  This step alone will not fix the slow reboot times. 

This is a good step to perform, regardless of the slowness issue.

Diagnostics:
Open the Control Panel, "Programs and Features".
Locate and highlight Intel Management Engine.
Note the version number.  You need to be at version 9.5.15.1730 (date 2013/10/24) or newer.  My version was 9.0.13.1402.  Intel often changes this software so expect newer version numbers than what is published here.


Upgrading Intel Management Engine:

Intel makes finding their software challenging unless you happen to know the exact name you are looking for.  As of 2014.02, follow these steps:

1.  Browse to www.intel.com.  From top menu, choose Support, choose "Download Center"


2.  In the Search Downloads box, middle of the screen, type "Intel Management Engine"

3.  Narrow the search by Operating System only (Windows 8.1 64-bit); do not filter by Desktop or Software Products or you will get lost.  The screen used to look like this, but has now changed




4.  In the results, look for

"Intel ME 10: Managemetn Engine Driver for Intel NUC

As of 2015.06:
Version 10.0.38.1036
Date: 1/21/2015

"Intel (R) ME 9: Management Engine Driver for Intel(R) NUC
version 9.5.15.1730 or newer.

You will likely find two possible hits.  Without knowing the model of your mother board, guess at which one to download.  (If the downloaded version will not install - it won't install on the wrong hardware - then try the other).  As of this date, the download is a Zip file. 

5.  In Windows Explorer, create a temporary folder/directory (any location), name it any name, such as "IntelDriver".

6.  Locate the downloaded ZIP file.  Double-click to open.  Highlight all files, all folders, copy.  Paste the copy in the newly built Temp folder  (here is where you wished Intel would distribute installable .exe)'s.   Do not run the install from within the .ZIP.

7.  In the Temp folder, double-click "Setup.exe" and allow the program to install.  The install will take about a minute and a reboot is likely.  In Control Panel, Programs and Features, confirm the version number.  Delete the Temp folder.


Partially Related - Intel ME FW Recovery Agent:

Intel also installs the Intel Management Engine Firmware Recovery Agent (see Programs and Features).  This is a background process that checks Intel for updates and automatically updates regardless of what your OEM does (Dell, HP, etc.). 

In general, I distrust auto-updates for hardware.  After a short while, vendors get tired of updating hardware drivers and then, years later, you still have this process running and occupying resources when there will probably never be another change.  In the system tray, launch the oddly-named "Firmware Recovery Agent" and let it check one time.  Then, in the Settings link within the program, you can disable automatic checks, if desired.  Manually checking for updates with the search-steps above may be adequate for many.

Results:
The machine should boot, shutdown and wake from sleep at lightning speeds. 


Solution 3:  / Workaround:

Note:  This solution, while solving the immediate problem of slow shutdowns and restarts (before I found a newer driver), I have since discovered a new problem:  The PC is not waking from sleep.  This workaround originally solved the problem, with much faster shutdown and restart times, but later discovered the machine would not wake from sleep.

Steps, now in some doubt, but might be worth exploring:

1.  Disable the Bluetooth feature on the wireless card until Qualcomm releases a fixed driver (as of 2014.02.02 - version 6.3.9600.16384 this has not been fixed).  The Wireless card handles both Ethernet and Bluetooth traffic.  With this workaround, the WIFI remains enabled, while disabling Bluetooth fixes this problem with obvious consequences.

Steps to Disable the Bluetooth:

a.  Login to Windows 8.1 with an administrative account (likely, you are already logged in as a local admin).

b.  Open Control Panel, choose "Device Manager"

c.  In Network Adapters, locate:

Bluetooth Device (Personal Area Network)
Bluetooth Device (RFCOMM Protocol TDI)


Highlight each choice, other-mouse-click and choose "Disable";  do not uninstall.



d.  Scroll to, and expand, "System Devices". Disable Bluetooth in a third location:

Locate "Qualcomm Atheros Bluetooth Bus"
Other-mouse-click and choose "Disable"; do not uninstall




e.  Close Device Manager.  Gracefully reboot the workstation.
Once back online, reboot a second time for the final test.  Restart times should be *much* faster.


Related links:
 
Qualcomm Drivers - This page will not be useful, but is documented here, anyway.  Drivers are .Rar and I cannot tell which driver I should be downloading and cannot tell by product description.