T-Mobile Signal Problems in Sac? Good and Bad News…

If you’re on T-Mobile right now, you’ve probably noticed that signal has been really patchy this week. We’re on T-Mobile ourselves, and luckily we can speak techie to the T-Mobile support people. This allowed us to get a little more info than what we were able to find out via google.

The good news first: T-Mobile is currently in the process of incorporating the MetroPCS network into their own, which means several things. One, LTE is now available to T-Mobile customers! That means you can take any 4G LTE capable phone (with a sim slot) and bring it over to T-Mobile as long as it’s unlocked. There are now about 3x as many phones available to T-Mobile customers with this addition to the network, as well as extended coverage with the higher speeds of both LTE and HSPA+ 4G networks.

The bad news: During this period of transition, the towers being updated will be down or reduced in functionality. We didn’t get a solid promise of when the signal issues would be fixed, but they gave us a tentative estimate of about a week before we would see full signal restored to effected areas. Small price to pay for the added options for phones and extra range of 4G networks.

We are offering our services for unlocking phones for those of you that may wish to buy or bring an LTE phone over to T-Mobile! We have a great deal of experience in rooting and flashing android and Windows Mobile phones, so if you’re interested in taking advantage of the new T-Mobile network, please give us a call!


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Recent increase in accounts being hacked on Facebook

Here at the Neighborhood Nerd, it’s important to us that you know when, where, and how to be safe using your technology. Recently we have seen a serious spike in Facebook users reporting their respective accounts being broken into, and nefarious things being done to them, without knowledge, or consent. We just wanted to take a minute and inform you of a few easy steps you can take to remedy this issue, if not stop it from happening all together:

1. Always keep your passwords secure, and don’t use the same one for multiple websites. This makes it harder for others to take multiple accounts. Even if it is just a small variation, every difference counts.

2. Be wary of unknown emails, and unsecured websites, so always verify that you are where you meant to be. Most major websites have credentials that verify themselves as safe, and virus free. If in doubt, access the website in question directly instead of clicking the link in your email.

3. use variations of uppercase, and lowercase letters, combined with numbers for the most security. The most popular form of this is called 13375P34K or Leetspeak, and only involves replacing a common letter with a number, or symbol that is physically similar. Examples :
A = 4 B = 8 C = ( D = |) E = 3 F = |= G = 6 H = |-| I = ! J = _| K = X L = 1 M = 44 N = |\| O = 0 P = |* Q = 0_ R = |2 S = 5 T = 7 U = |_| V = \/ W = \/\/ X = %

Y = j Z = 2

Using this model you can then make the most secure passwords, but still does not guarantee your security.

4. One of the best, and final pieces of advice is change your passwords once every couple months. Even if you have a rotation that you go through, make sure not to keep the same information for longer then six months.

As always, thanks for your business –

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FBI Moneypak Ransomware Virus is no match for us!

Over the last couple of months we’ve been seeing a whole bunch of computers infected by the FBI Moneypak virus. It locks you out of your computer, tells you the FBI is watching your activities and other creepy things, and then demands that you go to your local walmart (or other Moneypak vendor) buy a $100 Moneypak, and enter it’s code into the input box on the screen. The virus can also activate your computer’s webcam if it has one in order to scare the victim further.

First things first, the FBI is part of the government. The government does not need Moneypak to serve you with a fine. If you try to pay this off, you’re just throwing money down the drain, and even if you pay it, the virus will probably not release the computer.

This does not mean all is lost! Too many service companies are simply wiping computers and calling it unfixable. Wiping a system for this virus is OVERKILL and has the nasty downside of losing all of your data. This virus is not only fixable, but laughably so. There are only two infected files and they hide in %userfolder%\AppData\Roaming\ & %userfolder%\AppData\LocalLow. The file names are randomly generated but they’re pretty obvious to anyone who has seen an infection file before. If you’re infected with this virus please give us a call to get a TuneUp and we will make sure you get your computer back without losing any of your valuable data

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Fake Security Tech Confidence Scheme – CLSID 888DCA60-FC0A-11CF-8F0F-00C04FD7D062

We recently had a scammer attempt to trap one of our business customers in a confidence scheme involving something called a CLSID, or a security tag on your computer. This scammer told my client that they were a tech company associated with Microsoft and that they had detected the presence of malware throwing infectious code from my client’s computer. To prove it, they asked my client to pull up a command line window and run a function called “assoc” which looks like this:

He quoted the CLSID back to my client exactly, but what any average person wouldnt know is that this CLSID isnt the one associated with your computer, but with Microsoft’s “send zipped file to target” function which always has the same CLSID associated with it on every windows computer. The effect is that the scam artist makes it seem like he can see into the deepest reaches of your computer and is trying to help, but the reality is that he’s exploiting a constant value within Windows in order to gain a victim’s trust before launching a trap of some kind.

Here is the CLSID in case it is ever quoted to you: 888dca60-fc0a-11cf-8f0f-00c04fd7d062

If you happen to catch the caller’s number, be sure to report them to the Federal Trade Commission with an explanation of what happened: spam@uce.gov

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New AutoScanner Coming Soon!

Big news! The Neighborhood Nerd is putting together a nifty little script that will allow us to set up an automatic schedule to update, immunize, and scan our customer’s computers when using our own security suite. Prior to this script, most of the antispyware utilities we offer require the user to manually update and run their tools. We’re breaking into the realm of VisualBasic scripting and our first project will be to build this automated scanning script. Coming later will be automated backups and installers among others!

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“Mary” Spam

Spam rarely gets through our filter for our own server, so when we get a continuous stream of similar spam in a seemingly unending wave, it gets a little frustrating. At this point all the information we have is that this new spammer is using new server url’s every few days, and each email is individualized with a name starting with “Mary” and a randomized last name.Each email contains widely varying advertisements which redirect from the spammers server to what I can only guess is their client’s webpages.

It appears that these can penetrate our (and your) spam filters so easily because of the randomization of the names, emails, and content. The best way to prevent this spam from reaching your inbox is going to have to be on the server-side filtering, but isn’t an easy task. We’re attempting to track down the originating server of these emails so that we ca set a filter rule specifically to block traffic and mail from that location. Other than that the best we’ve been able to do is to reduce the volume of spam by adding each new url to our filter list as they come up, which brings the spam down to a few a week rather than a few every hour.

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New Voltage Regulation for Samsung 305t Fan Mod

As I’ve said in the past, I love making improvements to the modifications and work I do. I had a large influx of repairs for the Samsung 305T and Gateway XHD3000 monitors and as a result had to acquire a new stock of fans for the mod. These new fans are a newer model that have a built-in speed control circuit governed by a separate voltage than the input. Using this control wire runs the incoming voltage to the fan through a voltage divider, rather than a simple impedance circuit (a resistor). This has the advantage of causing the fan to draw less power and causing less distortion to the video board’s voltage regulation.

To accomplish this I’ve started using the JTAG header on the board as the fan connector. This helps in two ways. One, the fan connector is much more firmly anchored in an already existing socket, and the JTAG’s 3.3v output is perfect for use as the fan speed control regulator signal.

The original JTAG Pinout:

305T D-Board JTAG Original Pinout

305T D-Board Original JTAG Pinout

The JTAG connector pinout after modification:

305T D-Board Modified JTAG Connector

305T D-Board Modified JTAG Connector

Using the +3.3v control  wire to govern the fan speed allows the excess voltage to be passed back through the circuit into the ground without overloading the fan. The control wire is still regulated using a 500 ohm VR or Potentiometer.

305T Fan control circuit

+3.3v control wire running though the 500ohm VR

305T Modified JTAG Connector with Fan

Fan Connector set in the position of pin1-4

While essentially accomplishing the same type of effect, the overall design is now more elegant and efficient, and much less likely to come loose or break off over time.

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Syncmaster 305 & Gateway XHD3000 Enhanced Cooling Mod

A while back I posted a repair I’d done to a 305T 30″ LCD monitor and modified the casing for active cooling. I’ve taken the repair several steps further since then and thought I should share.

First off, I thought the USB cable was ugly, and wanted to wire up the fan internally. This would not only make the mod much cleaner looking, but would also allow the fan a wider range of voltages to choose from. +5v is the highest voltage you can pull out of a USB port, and the hub in this monitor requires you to have a cable from the monitor to the computer to even pull anything at all. So not the most elegant solution.

I didnt want to stop there though. I’d done a few repairs now and know where to pull voltage from the video board itself, but the input voltage is +18v or +27v depending on the operation at hand, so I would put a little 200ohm resistor on the voltage line to the fan to bring it back down to roughly +12v. This time I decided to put on a 500ohm variable trimmer resistor so that my customer can change the fan speed whenever they feel like it!

So here we go.

First thing I did was to secure a chipset heatsink and fan. All of the local shops I used to buy the ThermalTake fans from no longer carried any so I just went with a generic northbridge sink and a SilenX 40mm fan. This was actually a fortuitous change because of how I planned on mounting the heatsink this time.

I then used some epoxy to mount the trimmer resistor on the side of the fan, and wired it in line with the voltage wire.

heatsink and fan for the mod

different view of the mounted wires and resistor


The next order of business was cutting a hole not only in the plastic of the outer casing, but also in the RF shield so that I could mount this heatsink directly onto the Altera HardCopy chip. I did some placement tests and marked out my cutting area with a sharpe and scratches from an exacto knife.

positioning the fan directly over where the Altera chip will be

Placement hatches for cutting the hole for the heatsink

Making my first incision



In hindsight I would say that I should have put the video control board somewhere else while cutting. Alot of ceramic and metal dust got on it and it took a while to clean out properly. I used some electronics grade cotton swabs amd 99% isopropyl alcohol to accomplish the task. had to clean off the silicon pads under the shield as well. End result was very clean and well fitted!

perfectly fitted around the Altera chip

Fitting fan and trimmer resistor to thru the RF shield

Holding down the heatsink with the tennsion clips underneath


my original idea to have the entire tension clip under the heatsink left too much space between the rest of the RF shield and the other components on the board, so I decided instead to cut a couple of holes for the tension bracket to clip into, moving it up in relation to the RF shield just enough to put a decent amount of pressure on the sink without making it impossible for the other silicon pads to contact their components.

drilled a few holes first to make it easier to drill a large one without nicking the smaller one

Larger hole drilled for the clip to fit thru and under

Samsung 305T heatsink mounted on the RF shield

Tension Bracket mount hole closeup


Next task: Wiring!

I found that the easiest place to get decent voltage from this board is to use the back end of the fuse for the incoming power. Safest place too, since if the fan draws too much amperage it will only fry the fuse instead of something more important. Fir this mod I wanted to be able to remove the RF shield and heatsink without needing to desolder anything, so I bought a few 2-pin molex headers to wire into the board. The pic below shows my initial wiring test to check the fan was wired correctly thru the resistor. I scraped off part of the solder mask of the ground plane instead of soldering to a ground component for a couple of reasons. One, soldering directly to the ground plane made a good anchor for the header, and two it makes it less likely to pull anything important off the board if the cable or header get jostled.

+18v into the risitor then the fan, and the ground on the other wire back out

Routing the wires around the other components

Fan wired into the molex 2-pin header

Here's the final mounting on the fan header to the board


After getting the header all soldered down and mounted, I had to secure it a bit better with more epoxy as the header popped off when I tried to plug the fan in during reassembly. End product works perfectly and is super clean compared to the first one I did!

Finally mounted in its new home

Shot of the fan header mounted and plugged in

Here's the fan hole in the outer casing after reassembly

the variable resistor is very easily accessable


As you can see the variable resistor being mounted on the side of the fan made it very easily accessible without needing to make a huge change to the mod. Its wires have been covered with a dollop of epoxy to ensure they aren’t exposed to shorts.


I hope you enjoyed my latest creation of SCIENCE, and that it helps you with your own repairs. If you’d like your own Samsung Syncmaster 305T or Gateway XHD3000 repaired and modified by me, please feel free to call using the Google Voice widget on the left side of the page, or submit a service request here~

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