Block Ask toolbar (apnstub.exe) from phoning home, in case it ever gets on your system.

I have a rule hard-coded into my firewall (on my windows 7 machines) from a few years ago when something I installed alerted Eset Smart Security and the HIPS (Host intrusion prevention service) notified me that apnstub was trying to access the internet, well I immediately blocked access and added a rule to my ESET firewall, BLOCK APNSTUB.EXE from accessing anything. When I heard about all this noise that Ed Bott was making about Java installing the ask toolbar quietly and it waiting 10 minutes to install on your system, it reminded me of this rule that I added years ago, which would help me if I ever sloppily allowed ask toolbar back on my system. Now of course, the best way to protect yourself against this annoying spyware being installed on your system is to slowly go through any application installer, being sure to uncheck any default options that will sneakily install malware such as the ask toolbar on your system. However, there is also software that does not ask you to uncheck anything and may just sneak some crapware right in there.
Be sure to always deny apnstub.exe from ever accessing anything. Deny apntoolbar.exe also, this is not new news and has been available on the internet for years, as the ask toolbar has been included in Avira and many other free programs in the past. The problem with this is that someone who only has the windows firewall installed, will never know that the ask toolbar was trying to phone home, and may not know that the software was installed. This is why I recommend third-party firewalls to anyone who is security conscious, and on my windows 8 machine I am trying out a program called windows firewall control, however I am not receiving any notifications as of yet when a program tries to access the internet, I suspect this has something to do with Windows 8 and a change to the operating system that seems to prevent any program from displaying desktop notifications. I am not sure about this yet, but it seems that Windows Firewall control does not work well with Windows 8 yet, and I am currently looking for an alternative third-party firewall that works well with Windows 8.

Upgrading from Windows 8 (basic) to Windows 8 Pro for $39.99

First of all, I want to say that many people think that HP sucks and I agree that there are many things wrong with how HP packages its computers (Bloatware), but I have an 3-year-old HP G62-435DX and it is still running like new almost 3 years after purchasing it. So, when I saw that HP had a 2.4ghz Intel-I7-3630 quad-core processor inside the new Envy dv6 for less than $1000 with 8gb of RAM, with Dr.Dre’s Beats Audio speakers built-in, I thought about it for a bit and bought it. For the price I was looking to spend it was really only Toshiba, Dell, Acer, and Lenovo with what I needed, and I wanted an I7 processor. That narrowed it down to HP, Toshiba and Acer and HP gave me the most features for the price, plus I know that HPs are easily upgradeable, the Lenovos I looked it had an 8gb Max RAM. So far, I am very happy I went with the HP, as it is a beautiful black machine, with the only problems so far coming from Windows 8 bugs that refuse to install programs when I repeatedly click on the installer files.

Also, Norton Internet Security came with the computer and the Windows Security Center seems to have a real problem identifying that Norton is running. I solved this problem rather quickly by reregistering the WMIUTIL.dll, but that’s not something an ordinary computer user would know how to do. Here’s a link to an article on The Windows Club that explains how to troubleshoot and fix this annoying Anti-Virus missing Notification… After a few more days I noticed that with Norton Internet Security installed I would choose to restart the computer and it would try to restart it just could not. I would see a blue screen that says Windows is Restarting and have a bunch of circles going around in a small circle, but it would never make it past that point. I did some research and discovered that many people had this same problem, and they all had Norton installed as well. So I uninstalled Norton Internet Security and was now able to shut down and restart without the same problem so far.

However, I have been noticing some other problems with Windows 8. Normally when you have problems with files on a hardrive and the hard drive starts clicking and acting strange, you would never blame it on the operating system, however the drive that I plugged into this new laptop was only 2 months old and had never been used much. When I did use it worked fine with Windows 7. I know it might be a long shot but I have a feeling that just hooking this 750gb more than halfway filled hard drive up to Windows 8 machine and then saving my backups on it may have created a problem. Checkdisk will not work on it and I am currently putting it to the spinrite test to see what is going on with this drive. I know that drives can just go at any time but I have never had one of mine act up in only 2 months. Anyway I was backing up an image to it after saving a bunch of new files from my WIndows 8 install (in preparation for the Upgrade to Windows 8 Pro), and it started clicking and macrium reflect just hung and then erred out after about 15 minutes. I tried Windows Backup Create a System Image and that looked like it was working, until the progress bar got half way done and finally it stuck (For An Hour). Then Finally a message popped up that said I/O failure, The disk is not connected or something to that effect. Well I tried to run chkdsk on it, since it was still connected and the blue light was lit on the drive. No dice, Windows cannot access this media. Several errors that I have never seen before started popping up, so I first tried to eject the drive, but Hardware Remove wizard says The Drive is still in use, so I reboot the computer and blam Black Screen. Good thing this happened now because i was just about to install my windows 8 Pro Upgrade right over the top and I would have lost some of my backup maybe.

Well I wrote this article because I was searching online for anybody who had any experience with upgrading a new Windows 8 computer to Windows 8 Pro with the $39.99 upgrade deal. Microsoft said themselves that you can install it on another computer, so i am about to do it, and The product key worked. I had the ISO burned onto a DVD in the dvd drive and I right clicked on it to try to see the contents of the drive, and it just started spinning and started up. I should have turned off the Autorun, but I notice that Microsoft turned it bACK on for CDs and DVDs in Windows 8, (or it was never turned off), either way, I prefer to choose what to do when a dvd is inserted in the drive and I like to explore the contents first.

So the point of this story was just to say that you can install the Windows 8 Pro Upgrade over your new Windows 8 Basic edition, However they will only give you the option to save your personal files only, No applications will remain installed, which is a real pain in the ass since I just spent 2 days activating all my software and reinstalling my essential tools. I never thought upgrading from Windows 8 to Windows 8 Pro would only have the same functionality as Upgrading from XP to Windows 8, so I am backing up everything, making images, and then i will not be going for a clean install because of HP’s drivers and whatever shims they had to put in here to run this operating system on this hardware, I just don’t want to have to go through this again, and my OS is only 1 week old so why should I have to do a clean install again, Good luck guys, get the upgrade before it’s over on the 31st, if you need the extended features of the Pro edition (which I definitely need to join my domain, Mount VHDs, use Bitlocker, etc.