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Microsoft slips user-tracking tools into Windows 7, 8

Microsoft slips user-tracking tools into Windows 7, 8 amidst Windows 10 privacy storm

Worried about Windows 10’s deep-reaching user tracking? Some of it’s coming to Windows 7 and 8, too.

Windows 10 is a deliciously good operating system, all things considered, but its abundant user-tracking has prompted many privacy-minded individuals to stay pat with older versions of Windows. Now, Microsoft’s providing those concerned individuals a reason to upgrade.

No, the company’s not walking back its privacy-encroaching features. Instead, Microsoft’s quietly rolling out updates that bake new tracking tools into Windows 7 and Windows 8.

Yes, really.

The story behind the story: Privacy concerns have marred an otherwise sterling launch for Windows 10, which is already installed on 75 million PCs. Rolling out this Windows 7 and 8 updates amidst the controversy smacks of insensitivity—and it’s just plain poor timing, to boot.

All eyes on you

Ghacks discovered four recent KB updates for Windows 7 and 8, all designed to send Microsoft regular reports on your machine’s activities.

  • KB3068708 – “This update introduces the Diagnostics and Telemetry tracking service to existing devices. By applying this service, you can add benefits from the latest version of Windows to systems that have not yet upgraded. The update also supports applications that are subscribed to Visual Studio Application Insights.” This update replaced KB3022345.
  • KB3075249 – “This update adds telemetry points to the User Account Control (UAC) feature to collect information on elevations that come from low integrity levels.”
  • KB3080149 – “This package updates the Diagnostics and Telemetry tracking service to existing devices. This service provides benefits from the latest version of Windows to systems that have not yet upgraded. The update also supports applications that are subscribed to Visual Studio Application Insights.”

The latter two updates are flagged as Optional, but KB3068708 holds Recommended status, which means it would be downloaded and installed if you have Windows Updates set to automatic. It’s only functional in PCs that participate in Microsoft’s Customer Experience Improvement Program, which already sends Microsoft information on how you use your computer.

Opting out of the CEIP isn’t a single straightforward flip to switch. You have to disable it in all the software you’ve agreed to use it with. From Microsoft’s CEIP website:

“Most programs make CEIP options available from the Help menu, although for some products, you might need to check settings, options, or preferences menus. Some pre-release products that are under development might require participation in CEIP to help ensure the final release of the product improves frequently used features and solves common problems that exist in the pre-release software.”

If you use Office’s default settings, it signs you up for Microsoft’s CEIP. How-to Geek has a tutorial explaining how to disable it, though if sending information to Microsoft before didn’t bother you, this new update probably won’t either.


Disabling the tracking tools in the Recommended KB3068708 update isn’t simple, either. It connects to and, which are hard-coded to bypass the Windows HOSTS file. In other words, it’s tricky to block unless you have a firewall that can block HTTPS connections as well as be configured manually, ExtremeTech explains. There are options in GPEdit.msc that allow you to disable application telemetry and CEIP participation, but it’s unknown if they behave correctly after the new patches are installed.

uninstall update

Where to uninstall updates. (Image ironically taken on Windows 10.)

If you don’t want these new tracking tools on your PC, the best thing to do seems to be simply uninstalling the offending updates, then blocking them from being reinstalled.

To do so, head to Control Panel > Programs > Uninstall or change a program. Here, clickView installed updates in the left-hand navigation pane. In the search box in the upper-right corner, search for the KB3068708, KB3022345, KB3075249, and KB3080149 updates by name. If they’re installed, they’ll pop right up. If you find one, right-click on it and select Uninstall to wipe it from your system.


To block the updates from being downloaded again, dive back into the Control Panel and head to System and Security > Windows Update > Check for updates. The system will look for updates, then say you have a certain number of updates available, separated by status (Optional, Recommended, Critical). Simply click the recommended updates link, find the KB3068708 and KB3022345 updates, then right-click them and select Hide update. Boom! Done.

Now dive into the optional updates and hide KB3075249 and KB3080149 as well.

Change default program files installation path in Windows 7

Change default program files installation path in Windows 7

Files and C:\Program Files (x86) directories. If the hard drive you have the operating system installed on is running out of space though, or you just want to have the OS on a separate SSD, you might want to consider changing these default installation paths.

Be warned before you go on though! Microsoft does not officially support changing installation directories (see here). You are responsible for all consequences.

Furthermore, since we are going to edit the Windows registry for our causes, you should have that backed up first in case something goes wrong. Here’s how:

Now that you have been warned, let’s get started: Open a Run…prompt and enter regedit. I will be referring to our new installation path as E:\Program Files and E:\Program Files (x86), so replace these paths with the ones you want to have (you can choose other names as well). Now browse the left registry pane for theHKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion key. Click on that key once to show its contents and locate the ProgramFilesDir and ProgramFilesDir (x86):

Reg-edit Screenshot

Double click those values and change C:\Program Files toE:\Program Files as well as C:\Program Files (x86) toE:\Program Files (x86). Furthermore it might be safe to change all other paths directing to the old directories to point at the new ones as well. That’s it if you are on a 32bit system, close the registry and reboot your computer.

64bit users have one more step to go. Close the registry and open another Run… prompt. This time, enter%systemroot%\sysWOW64\regedit. Another registry windows will open. Repeat the exact same steps here that you have done before. Afterwards, close the registry and reboot your computer.


See original  instructions at:

Also see:

WordPress API reference, editor styling

Just a quick post to the codex entry relating to this topic:

Nothing to hard there on the surface, but may require including the whole theme style which may break the editor visually requiring overriding some of the core theme elements, Which if it breaks or messes up the editor visually having to manually over write/nullify the offending css rules.

Leading to if that is the case is it maybe more efficient to create a separate css file for  lists/paragraph/heading/image/video type defines ONLY compared to pulling in the whole theme style.. All that seems to be a revolving door mostly resting on the choice of using @import or not which has slightly higher overhead compared to not using it.

Literally the only difference would be not using @import, and instead of going round the merry go round just doing the work in the opposite direction instead of re-defining what we re-defined (the merry go round!), simply dig out what is needed and include that only.

Windows 7 Installation Tips and Tricks

How to create a Windows 7 installation partition

This concept can be used to perform clean installs as well as perform recovery tasks. Potentially think about a larger system/restore partition large enough to hold other files, such as saving system backup images to this drive and maybe portable apps/tools.

Geek Tip from the video: shift + f10 launches a command prompt from within the windows installation process.

Fix Windows USB/DVD Download Tool when unable to copy files

A user account trick to hide accounts from the login screen:

If you have an account with Administrator-level permissions on the system, you should be able to delete the account using the

net user

command from an elevated command prompt.

In the Start Menu’s search bar, type


. When “cmd.exe” is highlighted in the search results, press CTRL+SHIFT+ENTER. You should get a UAC prompt. After the UAC prompt, you should see a CMD window with the title

Administrator: C:\Windows\System32\cmd.exe


From there, use

net user

as you normally would to delete a user account:

net user [username] /delete

For more information about

net user


Once done the user account still exists but it is not visible in the login screens visibly it is souly in the background existing for tasks not daily desktop work, this is handy for hidden admin accounts or other accounts that are used for specific purposes like password protected file sharing (very handy!).

Bitcoin Mining

Potentially looking at getting a bitcoin miner/setup
Is several options most i like have related guides on DogieCoin’s Guides, possibly most efficient is the RockMiner R-BOX at 32~37GH/S consuming 40W~50W power.

Links below:

Mining Pools:

**Everything below is Old/Dated**

The most important component(s) to the build is the graphics card(s), and it appears that the FLOP rating and memory bandwidth are key here in terms of bit mining via graphics cards..

ATI Radion HD models worth looking into:

  • 6990 : 700+ mhash/s, cost on ebay: £250+ ballpark found 1x listing(s)
  • 5970 : 700+ mhash/s cost on ebay: £250+ ballpark found x1 listing(s)
  • 7970 : 600+ mhash/s cost on ebay: £250+ ballpark found x10 listing(s)
  • 7950 : 450-500(?) mhash/s cost on ebay: £225+ ballpark found x10 listing(s)
  • 6970 : 380-400(?) mhash/s cost on ebay: £250+ ballpark found x1 listing(s)
  • 5870 : 380-400(?) mhash/s cost on ebay: ?+ ballpark found x1 listing(s) (all for macs?)
  • 7850 : 300-400(?) mhash/s cost on ebay: £125+ ballpark found x10 listing(s)
  • 6950 : 350 mhash/s cost on ebay: £150+ ballpark found x10 listing(s)

Nearly everyone uses a AMD Sempron 145 CPU, with varried motherboards and higher end power supplies to support multiiple graphics cards.

Links below:

Mining Pools:

Foot Note: Current daily pc with a crappy card is running around 20 mhash/s, and on slush’s pool i’m getting between the ballpark of 0.0001 to 0.001 BTC per day mining probably 60% of the time in a 24 hr period. Guessing this varies depending on the amount of work the pool is doing as a whole and how consistently my machine is online every round performing work. Also i’m thinking at 200+ mhash/s on slush’s pool I would be getting 0.01 to 0.1 BTC per day. Keep in mind the power consumption of this card/pc is about £50 a year.

Creating Child Themes for WordPress

If you’re unfamiliar with the subject see the Resource Links

A Quck and Dirty Twenty Twelve Child Theme, first we need to create a new folder for the child them, and inside that create a style.css file once done you can follow this example which is a Child Theme for Twenty Twelve.

Theme Name: Serverhash Twentytwelve
Theme URI:
Description: Serverhash Twentytwelve theme, based off the twenty twelve theme
Author: James L. Moss Jr.
Author URI:
Template: twentytwelve
Version: 1.0.0
Tags: light, gray, white, one-column, two-columns, right-sidebar, flexible-width, custom-background, custom-header, custom-menu, editor-style, featured-images, full-width-template, microformats, post-formats, rtl-language-support, sticky-post, theme-options, translation-ready
@import url("../twentytwelve/style.css");


Next we can introduce a functions.php file and a custom.css file, this is where all good things begin to happen in custom and child themes. We will keep this basic for now, the code is commented to explain what it’s doing the main purpose is to allow us to include a custom.css file in a correct way.

 * Tell WordPress to run post_theme_setup() when the 'after_setup_theme' hook is run.
add_action( 'after_setup_theme', 'serverhash_twentytwelve_post_theme_setup' );

 *  Enqueue our own custom.css file
 *  Replace the_generator with our own text 
if ( !function_exists( 'serverhash_twentytwelve_post_theme_setup' ) ):
function serverhash_twentytwelve_post_theme_setup() {
	// Add our new custom.css styles after all stylesheets have loaded
	function serverhash_twentytwelve_enqueue_child_style() {
		wp_enqueue_style( 'child_style', get_stylesheet_directory_uri() . '/custom.css', array(), null );
		do_action( 'serverhash_twentytwelve_enqueue_child_style', 'child_style' );
	add_action( 'wp_enqueue_scripts', 'serverhash_twentytwelve_enqueue_child_style', 11 ); 	

    // removes the WordPress version from your header for security
    function serverhash_twentytwelve_remove_version() {
    	return <!--Serverhash Twentytwelve, a custom Twentytwelve Child theme -->';
    add_filter('the_generator', 'serverhash_twentytwelve_remove_version');



WordPress Theme Resources:

One key concept for me as a developer and potential theme designer is choosing the right them as a parent theme. Any theme that has it’s own built in theme options needs to either have everything I would want or be easy to extend to fill gaps in needs I may want. To date i’ve simply not found this to be an easy task. So i’m opting for theme’s that by default have no ‘extra’ theme options built into them beyond the basics header/background which are handled easily by default within the wordpress theme api itself and can be kept separate. To this end going foward ill be building up future child themes for the default twenty twelve them and also I will attempt to find a suitable responsive base theme that has ‘no extra theme options’ built in. Allowing me to document the process of adding theme options along the way which as well will lead me down the path of choosing which option framework to use as their are about 5 stable/usefull ones out there which I will be considering. I may try each out and list pro’s cons of each at a later time.

A good example of this is:

Which is a basic responsive theme but comes bundled with an options framework and one of the more complete pre-fab set of options I have found.. I believe most of the themes have been built with that as it’s starting point likely with tweaks as needed, so I will be taking a good look at that as it has alot of nice features i’ll try to recreate but instead from a basic responsive theme as a parent(no options) and adding the extra options/functionality to that with child themes using an options framework.

Why go that route? To me having a parent theme that can be tweaked/updated with minor fixes down the road leaving little to no impact on child themes. Instead strip away the ‘custom aspects’ of a base theme leaving those areas solely to the child theme and me as the developer/designer of that child theme. The parent theme I can help find/suggest tweaks to the themes maintainers and not need to maintain my own version, also I could choose to make my own at a later date. So far i’m leaning towards a responsive base theme. As personally they provide the cleanest starting point with proper webkit shims in place for most browsers. Much more so than twenty twelve does currently. Two main area’s missing in twenty twelve are grids/column defines in the css and also webkit shims for rounded corners, box-shadows, and other IE specific things, which are already done beautifully in responsive themes.