A Malware on my Mac!

July 5, 2014

Screen Shot 2014-07-05 at 1.48.17 PMIn general, it seems that Windows PCs are much more susceptible to viruses and malware. The reason being, there are many, many more Windows PCs than Macs in the general public and the “bad guys” focus their efforts for the biggest impact. As such, I don’t have any virus checking software on my desktop Mac system.

Recently, I noticed a new icon at the top right corner of my screen which had a drop-down menu labeled “Premier Opinion”. Having no clue what this was, I Googled it and discovered it was some kind of spyware! Thinking back, I believe I must have inadvertently installed it when I was trying to load something on my son’s iPad. Ugh!

Luckily, I was able to remove this troublesome malware after a few attempts following a guide on the web. Afterwards, I decided to try using the free antivirus software called ClamXav to scan my desktop files for other potential viruses and malware. ClamXav was easy to install, and seemed to do a thorough job of identifying a few emails that were labeled as “phishing”. Whew!

Note, it did take a long time to check all my files, but I’m happy now that I’ve conducted the check. In the future, I’ll probably do some regularly scheduled checks just in case.

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Resucitating a 1st-Gen Kindle Fire Tablet

July 5, 2014

Screen Shot 2014-07-05 at 10.53.39 AMWhen Amazon first released the Kindle Fire Tablet back in 2011, I purchased one since it was such a great deal. Amazon was apparently selling these tablets at a loss, hoping to make it up with owners making additional purchases with special offers, Amazon Prime subscriptions, etc. The only bad thing, is that it ran a forked version of the Android OS called “FireOS” which was severely handcuffed from the regular Google-Android world. For example, you could only officially install apps that were on the Amazon app store, and not from the Google Play Store.

Over the course of a few years, I ended purchasing a Google Nexus 7 tablet (I actually got it for free with a special iPod Touch trade-in offer at GameStop) which had the full Android OS experience. As such, my Kindle Fire tablet became a dust collector sitting on my bookcase shelf for the next few years.

Fast forwarding to 2014, my Nexus 7 tablet is having some very common issues with the audio output through the headphone jack. I’ve tried the different remedies posted on the web, but I’m still having issues. I often have to twist the body of the Nexus 7 to get both headphone channels working at normal volumes. Really annoying.

So, I decided to resurrect my Kindle Fire and see if I can install a custom ROM to make it useful again. The least I could do is use it as a backup tablet if my Nexus 7 does finally crap out, or if the battery runs down and I need a substitute tablet. So, I spend a good half day researching the web to find that I could install the latest version of CyanogenMod 11 (Android Kitkat 4.4.2) on my Kindle Fire. It’s not the easiest thing to do, but do-able.

You’ll first need to root your Kindle Fire, then install a custom bootloader. After that, you can download the CyanogenMod OS installation and install it on the Kindle Fire. With a little luck, you’ll have a custom Android ROM running on your old Kindle Fire and have it as spare or primary tablet with the latest Android OS!

Note, that when I went through this procedure I did get some locked screens and had to do some researching on the web to resolve those issues. So don’t be surprised if you “brick” your tablet along the way and have to jump through some hoops to fix it. And remember, Google is a wonderful thing to help fix all issues! 🙂