Windows 10 Clean Install and Fresh Start options

Windows 10 offers a recovery option to do a clean install.  Warning:  this option will remove installed applications and files.  Do a backup of your PC before choosing this option.

This tool may be accessed by clicking Start button > Settings > Update & Security > Recovery > “More recovery options” – “Learn how to start fresh with a clean installation of Windows”.  This option can also be found at

Windows 10 Fresh Start will perform a clean reinstallation and update of Windows while keeping user personal data and most Windows settings intact, but Fresh Start will remove installed apps and digital licenses and digital content associated with apps.  Fresh Start can be run by selecting Start > Settings > Update & Security > Windows Defender > Device performance & Health.  Under Fresh Start, select Additional info > Get Started.  Update: in the Windows 10 May 2020 update (version 2004), this functionality has been moved to Start > Settings > Update & Security > Recovery > Reset this PC > Get Started.

Another option for reinstalling Windows is to create installation media. Instructions for this are available at

A list of Recovery options in Windows is at

Visual Studio Live Share

Visual Studio Live Share (VS Live Share or VSLS) is a development project tool to allow team collaborative editing of source code within Microsoft Visual Studio or Visual Studio Code.  VSLS is currently in preview or pre-release mode as a Visual Studio Marketplace extension and may become a paid product in the future.

More information can be found here:

Vehicle smart key issues

USA Today has reported that some cars using smart keys or keyless ignitions may be vulnerable to theft.  Some security experts recommend wrapping the smart key in layers of aluminum foil or placing the key in a metal container when not in use.   However, there are currently no statistics on this type of car theft, and higher-end vehicles are more likely to be targeted, according to the Washington Post.  Drivers may find it easier to place their smart keys in a Faraday or RFID blocker bag instead of using foil.

Keyless cars have also been linked to deaths caused by carbon monoxide poisoning when vehicles were accidentally left running in garages attached to homes.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommends checking the vehicle manual for instructions on how to make sure the engine is off.

Many smart keys have a blade tucked inside that can manually unlock the doors if the key fob battery fails.  Some cars have valet keys placed inside the owner’s manual or in a tool kit.  There may be a hidden car key hole concealed behind a piece of trim in the door or near the ignition.   Some auto manufacturers can also remotely unlock a vehicle if the driver requests assistance using the company’s mobile app.   There may be a mechanical door release handle inside a door panel or on the floor next to each car seat.  Sometimes the inactive key fob can be placed near the engine start/stop button, cup holder, vehicle emblem, or another spot to  start the car or unlock the car doors.  The key fob may need to be pressed once it is near these locations.  Most new cars will display a message when the smart key battery is low.  Check the vehicle’s manual for more information.

The National Safety Council and the University of Iowa website is designed to educate drivers on vehicle safety features including push button start ignitions.

Companies are tracking user biometric behavioral data

The New York Times has reported on companies that track the way that users interact with websites and apps, including user typing, clicking, and swiping patterns.  This stored behavioral biometric data can be used to generate an automated security warning if an application user’s behavioral patterns are different than previously detected.

Some of the companies that provide solutions to track biometric behavioral data include Forter, Biocatch and NuData Security.

7-Zip – a free file archiver that uses many compressed file formats

7-Zip is a free open source software that can be used to compress or uncompress files in many commonly used file formats. The default compressed file format is 7z but other common formats such as ZIP, TAR, etc. can be used.   7-Zip download files are currently available for Windows and Linux.  This FAQ lists more information on how to use 7-Zip.

California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 (CCPA)

The California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 (CCPA) (Assembly Bill AB-375) was passed on June 28th 2018 and is designed to protect the personal data of California state residents.  Companies worldwide must comply with CCPA by January 1, 2020.

Update: Microsoft agreed to honor the CCPA’s new privacy rights throughout the United States in a November 2019 blog post.