BreakthePaywall now available in Google Chrome

BreakthePaywall is now available as a Google Chrome Extension.

Visit the Breakthepaywall home page: http://www.breakthepaywall.com

Or search in the Chrome store for ‘BreakthePaywall’

Or click this direct link: 

https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/breakthepaywall/ddlcmnkkbojfnfclfhbdfkcmhfaebhgc

The Chrome version utilises referer and agent hacks but does not perform any cookie deletion or other storage manipulation. However, this should be enough for most paywall websites.

The Extension adds a simple BTPW button to the Chrome toolbar which you can use to toggle BreakthePaywall on and off. When it’s coloured blue it’s on and grey is off.

Windows XP SVCHOST at 100% Solved

Was updating an old laptop with Windows XP on it and it started going really slow.

Windows update icon was always on and stuck at 1%.

Task manager reported SVCHOST process at 100% CPU.

Problem is with certain Windows updates on XP that sieze up the windows update process.

Solve it by downloading and installing an IE cumulative update i.e. KB2888505, which you can download here:

http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=41074

 

Tight VNC and Windows XP Fast User Switching

We use TightVNC for connecting into home workers machines when troubleshooting and came across a problem with one particular user – occasionally we could not connect.

We discovered that their machine was using Fast User Switching – husband and wife who had separate accounts.

When both are logged on e.g. the wife logged on early morning and then our worker logged on later in the day TightVNC was not connecting but when only one of them was logged on it did connect.

What is happening is that the user you’re logging on as is getting assigned a “session” other than session zero, and the TightVNC server is then restoring session zero to the console because that’s the session it’s capable of remoting.

You should be able to fix things by logging off all of the users from the XP system and then re-connecting via TightVNC. We came across no other way around this problem.

DNS Records not updating for DHCP clients

When we setup Microsoft DHCP and DNS servers we found that when client machines obtained new DHCP IP addresses on the local subnet the relevant A and PTR records were not added to the DNS server. This manifested itself when client machines could not be pinged.

Apparently the DNS records are not updated unless a client machine requests it – which does not happen when a new address is obtained.

To change this behaviour:

This is a modified configuration supported for Windows Server 2003-based DHCP servers and clients that are running Windows Server 2003, Windows 2000, or Windows XP. In this mode, the DHCP server always performs updates of the client’s FQDN and leased IP address information regardless of whether the client has requested to perform its own updates.

To configure a DHCP server to register and to update client information with its configured DNS servers, follow these steps:

  1. Open the DHCP properties for the server
  2. Click DNS, click Properties, click to select the Enable DNS dynamic updates according to the settings below check box, and then click Always dynamically update DNS A and PTR records.

 

Does not print or prints strange characters when using Terminal Server/RDP Easy Print service

We recently upgraded to Windows 2008 R2 terminal services/RDP and started getting reports from Windows XP users that they could not print and were getting error messages or were getting strange characters being printed when using the new Easy Print service.

Easy Print uses the local printer drivers rather than requiring the drivers to be installed on the terminal server – very useful to admins!

To solve this make sure that .NET framework 3.5 is installed.

Made sure that youhave Version 7 of TS client installed on the XP machine.

You can download this from: http://www.microsoft.com/download/en/details.aspx?displaylang=en&id=20609
(Note: even though this is version 7 it shows up as V6.1 under the file version in XP!)

Renamed this file: c:windowssystem32TsWpfWrp.exe to TsWpfWrp_OLD.exe (this was version 3.0.6920.1109 on our XP machines) just as a backup.

Copy a Win 7 version of the file to the same location – latest version we found was 3.0.6920.1201.

This solved both the error coming up and weird characters being printed.

Uninstalling from the Command Line

If a programme is not appearing in add/remove programs goto the following registry location:

HKLMSoftwareMicrosoftWindowsCurrentversionUninstall[name of
application]ModifyPath

If there is no modify path under the applications name then check through each GUID for the programme concerned.

Copy contents to command window and change the /I for a /X if neccessary.

e.g.

MsiExec.exe /I{CDC86F04-DA60-4043-B177-B870CE081040}

The GUID is unique for each programme installed.

Change to:

MsiExec.exe /x{CDC86F04-DA60-4043-B177-B870CE081040}

This should force the programme to uninstall – you can check by seeing if the GUID entry has disappeared.

You can also use this command on any MSI install package including drivers:

e.g.

MsiExec /x ‘c:driversWin_x86_SES_Driver.MSI’

 

See ms article for MSIExec details:

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc759262(WS.10).aspx

Breakthepaywall 1.3.0 now available

BreakthePaywall! is a free add-on for Internet Explorer 7 or higher using Windows XP, Windows Vista or Windows 7 that simplifies using the various methods for circumventing website paywall restrictions.

NEW Version 1.3.0 now available! – this latest release solves the problems with Microsoft’s August 2011 update for IE which changed the way cookies are stored and also adds functionality for deleting Flash cookies and HTML5 DOM Storage. Go to the download area to install the latest version.

HTML5 Cookies – DOM Storage in IE

HTML5 cookies are the latest threat to your browser privacy.

Like ordinary cookies and Adobe Flash cookies or locally stored objects (LSO’s) they can be used to track your online browsing.

Like flash cookies (see: http://www.islandearth.com/articles/2011/7/22/how-to-block-lsos-flash-cookies.html) you can block them completely within Internet Explorer by unticking this option under Tools, Internet Options, Advanced, Security Section:

DOM_Storage.JPG

The DOM Storage folder is located at:

XP:

c:documents and settings[Username]Local SettingsApplication DataMicrosoftInternet ExplorerDOMStore

Win7:

C:Users[username]AppDataLocalLowMicrosoftInternet ExplorerDOMStore

A good site for checking DOM Storage is: http://www.quirksmode.org/html5/tests/storage.html

How to block LSO’s (Flash cookies)

Traditionally it has been difficult to lock down flash so that locally stored objects (flash cookies) are blocked – LSO’s are not required for flash to work and are purely used for tracking. But, the latest version of Flash has completely changed its privacy system.

It now obeys the browsers settings.

So if you have IE set to delete all content on exit (like I do) the flash cookies will also be deleted.

Good stuff, but this does not prevent flash cookies in the first place – however, you can set flash to block all LSO’s by right clicking, choosing Global Settings and setting block options. This seems to work for all sites I have come across i.e. flash still works and nothing is created.

I assume this change has come about due to the new European privacy laws on cookies coming into force 🙂

Note: if you do not want to block all cookies you still have to use the old method on the Adobe site settings page: http://www.macromedia.com/support/documentation/en/flashplayer/help/settings_manager.html. This is also the only place where you can turn off allowing third party flash cookies – browser settings are not used for this.

Blocking LSOs (Flash Cookies) and the BBC

I wanted to block LSOs (Locally Stored Objects) commonly known as Flash cookies in Internet Explorer – for those of you who don’t know what LSOs are: they are an alternative to cookies as a means of tracking your online usage
(see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Local_Shared_Object).

I used the Adobe settings that they provide by right clicking on a flash image and choosing global settings. Adobe has an unusual way of allowing you to change your settings – rather than the settings menu being within the local flash plugin they send you to an Adobe website location. This seems dodgy in itself but that’s another story and there are other ways of blocking LSOs (see: https://nodpi.org/forum for IE; Use BetterPrivacy plugin for Firefox). Under the Global Storage Settings Panel you can set storage to zero, tick never ask again, untick Allow 3rd party content – this seems to block LSOs from being created (remember to delete your currently stored LSOs under the Peer-Assisted Networking Panel).

However, I did not have any problems viewing flash content until I tried viewing a news article on the BBC website – http://news.bbc.co.uk. The flash video would not run, despite trying to fiddle with the LSO settings the video either failed to start or I got a message that the content could not be displayed. It seemed that the BBC was using a 3rd party provider and that they require 3rd party content access and some storage space otherwise the video will not load.

The BBC website helpdesk was no help at all – did not have a clue what I was on about. Eventually I came across the following article on the BBC forums: http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs

This explains why the BBC was the only site I had a problem with. I am still awaiting a resolution to this.

Update October 2010: still no word on when the BBC is going to resolve the problem. I am pressing them for a response.

Update November 2010: The BBC have responded (see: BBC Response. Looks like they’re dragging this on until Spring 2011, if not beyond.

Update July 2011: I had extensive technical discussions with the BBC regarding this issue and was told they would investigate further and get back to me – they were under the impression that no local storage was taking place if you specifically blocked it. They never did get back to me and the posts on the BBC site have now been closed to comments! What I have found is that the new version of Flash has completely changed its privacy system – it now obeys the browsers settings. So if you have IE set to delete all content on exit the flash cookies will also be deleted. Good stuff, but this does not prevent flash cookies in the first place – however, you can set flash to block all LSO’s by right clicking, choosing Global Settings and setting block options. This seems to work for all sites i.e. flash still works. In the case of the BBC site a folder is created under %APPDATA%RoamingMacromediaFlash Player#SharedObjects but nothing is put into it. This folder disappears on exiting browser if you have the browser delete option on. So it has been indirectly resolved by Adobe rather than the BBC.

 

Update October 2011: The flash problem on the BBC news site is back! If you set all flash cookies to be blocked and your flash cache has been cleared the video’s on BBC news site will not work (other videos on BBC site as a whole do work). If you set flash to not block the videos they work and you can then set flash to block again and they still work, but if you have your browser set to delete cookies then the cache will clear on exit and you will have the same problem next time (in other words the BBC news videos require something to be downloaded). Have contacted BBC again and will post any response.