Computers

The Tech Corner is a technology news and advice column presented each week courtesy of Melvin McCrary at Georgia Computer Depot in Cedartown. 

Microsoft updates cause Old Epson printers to malfunction

Microsoft confirmed that updates the company delivered this week as part of the November 2017 Patch Tuesday are causing Epson dot matrix printers to malfunction.

The issue was reported at computer support forums across the Internet. All affected users reported the same thing —not being able to start print jobs because their computers do not recognize Epson dot matrix printers connected via USB cables.

Günter Born, an engineer from Germany, tracked down these issues to recent Patch Tuesday updates:

Microsoft confirmed the cause of Epson malfunction in an update added to the official KB support pages. “After installing this update, some Epson SIDM (Dot Matrix) and TM (POS) printers cannot print on x86 and x64-based systems,” the company said.

“Microsoft and Epson have determined the cause of the issue and we are working on a solution. This problem is not related to the printer driver, so installing current or older print drivers will not resolve the issue,” Microsoft added.

The Redmond-based OS maker promised to provide a future update to fix the problem. Updates to fix the problem are coming Users can still use their printers if they uninstall the faulty updates.

New Wi-Fi crack can intercept data: What you need to know

One of the key security protections in WiFi has a serious vulnerability, a researcher has revealed. The exploit has to do with the protocol “WPA2” - currently considered the most secure protocol commonly used on WiFi routers and hotspots.

Security researcher Mathy Vanhoef has published a demonstration for what he’s called “KRACKs,” short for key reinstallation attacks. That’s a way of exploiting a weakness in WPA2 (WiFi Protected Access II), the security system that is most commonly used when protecting wireless Internet communications (WiFi).

The problem could affect almost any device using WiFi and the WPA2 protocol, regardless of the operating system of browsers involved.

WPA2 involves encrypting data while it is traveling wirelessly. That means that even if somebody is able to intercept the data, it’s effectively unreadable. Decrypting the data requires lengthy codes called encryption keys.

WPA2 has an extra security measure that means the recipient can’t just decrypt the data, but can also check if it hasn’t been intercepted on the way by an imposter. An attacker would need to be in physical range of the wireless devices.

That means an attack would most likely be used either for a specific attack against an individual, or on public networks such as free WiFi in a coffee shop.

The extent of the potential damage varies from device to device. The most serious is for some Android connections where the attackers might be able to change data, rather than just read and intercept it.

Microsoft has already issued a fix, while Google says one will roll out “in the coming weeks”.

The most important thing is to make sure all available security updates are installed on your devices, including your router. This means either manually checking for updates or switching on automatic updates.

In some cases, you may need to contact the manufacturer (or Internet provider if they supplied your router) to check whether an update is available.

Microsoft’s Surface Book 2 drains the battery while gaming, even when plugged in

When Microsoft announced its refreshed Surface Book 2 last week, it was quite clear about how it wanted to position the product. “This is a desktop,” Panos Panay, Microsoft’s corporate VP of devices, declared. “For many, this is likely the most performant desktop they have ever seen.”

Apparently Panay was working with a different definition of “performant” than the rest of us, however, because the Surface Book 2’s true stand-out feature this time around isn’t the hinge, upgraded GPU, or its generally high performance: It’s that Microsoft’s latest and greatest literally can’t game on AC power without draining the battery.

That’s the word from Mark Hachman at PCWorld, who tested the “desktop” in a variety of conditions. With Windows 10 and the Fall Creators Update, users have a slider they can use to set their preferred battery optimization and performance level, from “Best Battery Life” to “Best Performance.”

By default, the Surface Book 2 is set to run in its lowest-power, lowest-performance state, even when plugged in. When you start moving the slider away from “Best Battery Life,” the system begins to ramp up its GPU clocks and performance level.

At the “Best Performance” level, the system turns into a wind turbine — definitely a risk when putting a GTX 1060 into a 13-to-15-inch chassis, and not something I’m surprised to read.

What is surprising is that Microsoft apparently built themselves a laptop that can’t supply enough battery power to operate.

PCWorld reports that the charger MS provides is specifieded for 102W, while the system draws 101W measured at the wall in its highest-end operating mode.