What is SHA-1 and SHA-2 and what’s the difference between them?

As we wrote in this blog post, Visual Installer now supports both SHA-1 and SHA-2 hash algorithms when it code signs setup packages. But maybe you wonder what this really means and what the difference is between SHA-1 and SHA-2? We will give a short explanation below.

SHA (in SHA-1 and SHA-2) is an acronym for Secure Hash Algorithm. SHA-1 and SHA-2 is a set of cryptographic hash functions designed by NSA. Cryptographic hash functions are mathematical operations run on digital data, and by comparing a computed “hash” (the output from an execution of the algorithm) to a known and expected hash value, it is possible to determine the integrity of the data. For example, computing the hash of a downloaded file and comparing the result to a known hash result can show if the downloaded file has been modified or tampered with since it was created.

SHA-1 is older than SHA-2 and it is no longer considered as secure. Operating systems (as Windows) and web browsers will soon not accept SHA-1 anymore. Instead must SHA-2 be used. SHA-2 is a family of six hash functions and one of them is SHA-256, which is commonly used when code signing binary files (for example program files, DLL files and setup packages). SHA-256 produces a 256 bit hash value. That is more than the older SHA-1, that only produces a 160 bit hash value.

For further reading, we recommend the following Wikipedia pages:
> Secure Hash Algorithm
> SHA-1 (Secure Hash Algorithm 1)
> SHA-2 (Secure Hash Algorithm 2)

See also
> What is Code Signing / Digital Signature / Digital Certificate? (Q&A)

How to run a Windows desktop application from a tablet

Normally it is not possible to run a Windows desktop application on a tablet computer (with an exception of Surface 3 and Surface Pro from Microsoft). But by using a remote control software like TeamViewer you can run a full-fledged Windows desktop program on any tablet computer, including iPad and Samsung Galaxy Tab. You can also use a keyboard and mouse with the Windows application. We will explain more in this article on our website:

> How to remotely control a Windows application from a tablet

Which image format is best for email newsletters?

JPEG / PNG / GIFToday there are many different image file formats to choose from for your pictures; for example BMP, TIFF, EPS, JPEG, PNG and GIF. Image formats are often designed to be used in specific contexts, and applying a particular image format in a wrong context usually leads to a poor result. That is why it is important to choose an image format that is suitable for the particular environment and context that your picture intends to be used in. But which image format is best for email newsletters?

New article
We have published a new article on our website that gives you an answer to this question. Among others, we explain the pros and cons of different image formats. You can easily access the article by clicking at the link below. We highly recommend you to read the article as it contains a lot of useful information, especially relevant for those sending out email newsletters with our email marketing software MultiMailer or any other email newsletter tools:

> Which image format is best for email newsletters: JPEG, GIF or PNG?

How do I create an AutoRun menu for a USB stick?

USB sticksWith USB sticks it is easy to distribute a large number of files, or large files, to other persons. For example software, videos, documents, drawings, etc. USB flash drives are also fast (especially USB 3.0 drives are very fast), so it does not take long time to copy (or install) the contents on a USB stick to a hard disk. But navigating can be a problem if the USB flash drive contains lots of files. The user can have problems to locate all of the files on the drive. The solution to this is to create a menu interface.

AutoRun menu interfaces
There exist many menu designer tools on the market that can create menu interfaces for USB flash drives. But what about AutoRun menu interfaces? Menus that open automatically? Is this even technical possible?

Menu interface for a USB stick

Microsoft disabled the AutoRun function for USB sticks
Microsoft disabled the AutoRun function for USB sticks a few years ago, so it does not work as with CDs and DVDs, as it did before. Until the year of 2011 you only needed to add the filename of the menu to an Autorun.inf file (that you put on the USB flash drive) and the menu would open automatically when somebody inserted the USB stick into a USB port. But today this method does not work. If you try the same today, the menu will not open automatically. Instead will Windows AutoPlay window be shown on the screen, and you must click on the Windows Explorer option in the AutoPlay window to open Windows Explorer, and thereafter manually locate the menu program file on the drive and run it.

Does it have to be in this way?
Does it have to be in this way? Is there really no way to create an AutoRun menu and have the menu be opened 100% automatically? We will give you the answer to this question in this new article on our website:

> How to Create an AutoRun Menu For a USB Flash Drive

Why does not AutoRun work with my CD / DVD drive?

Since Windows 95 all versions of Windows has supported the AutoRun technology. This technology allows programs and menu interfaces, that are distributed on CDs and DVDs, to be opened automatically when the disc is inserted in the computer’s drive.

But sometimes, in some computers, nothing happens when an AutoRun CD or DVD is inserted in the drive. Or, a window with the title “AutoPlay” is shown on the screen with a list with options, and you must click on the program or menu name to open it. A window similar to this is shown on the screen:

The AutoPlay window
Why is that?

The reason why the AutoPlay window is shown instead of the program or menu is run automatically is that there is a system setting available in Windows (in Windows Vista and later) that decides how AutoRun and AutoPlay will work in the operating system. If the AutoPlay window is shown instead of the software is run automatically, the setting in Windows is very likely set to “Ask me every time”. If nothing happens at all, the setting in Windows is probably set to “Take no action”.

The setting can be changed
This setting can be changed to something else, for example to allow full AutoRun. You can change the default behaviour for AutoPlay via the Control panel in Windows. You can change the setting by following these steps:

If you have Windows Vista or Windows 7:
1. Open Windows Start menu
2. Click on the Control Panel option
3. Click on Hardware and Sound
Hardware and Sound option

4. Click on AutoPlay
AutoPlay option

5. Locate the Software and games combo box
6. Change the setting to “Install or run program from your media”
Install or run program from your media

7. Click the Save button

If you have Windows 8 or Windows 8.1:
1. Open the Start screen
2. Type “autoplay” (this opens the Search screen)
3. Click on Settings
4. Click on AutoPlay
5. Locate the Software and games combo box
6. Change the setting to “Install or run program from your media”
7. Click the Save button

Summary
If you choose the “Install or run program from your media” option, your Windows will support full AutoRun. And when you insert a CD or DVD in your drive, the program or menu will be run automatically.

Notes
There may be situations when the steps above is not enough. Read this article for more details:
> How to Enable / Disable Autorun for a Drive (using Registry)

Is Visual Installer a good replacement for Wise installer?

Wise Installation Studio, Wise Installation Express and Wise Package Studio were three excellent installation tools created by the American company Wise Solutions, Inc and later maintained by Symantec Corporation, but these products have now been discontinued and are not supported anymore. So it is not possible to buy these setup tools today, and there are no new updates or service packs available anymore either. If you still use Wise for your installation projects you may encounter some compatibility problems when new versions of Windows are released. This article on our website explains more:

> Can I Replace Wise Installer with Visual Installer?

The article also discusses why it can be a good idea to use Visual Installer instead of Wise to your forthcoming installation projects.

What is EV Code Signing?

EV Code Signing, also called Extended Validation Code Signing, is a new code signing method that is supported by the new Microsoft Windows 8 operating system and by the Internet Explorer 9 and Internet Explorer 10 web browsers. It’s considered to be a safer method than traditional code signing because a hardware token and a PIN code is involved in the code signing process.

Also the identity verification and authentication process is more rigorous. The process is similar to the process of getting EV SSL certificates. On the negative side is that EV Code Signing is more expensive than traditional code signing.

Read our article about EV Code Signing
If you want to know more about the EV Code Signing technology you can read the following informative article on our website:

> Extended Validation (EV) Code Signing

How to remove the ‘Windows protected your PC’ message

The “Windows protected your PC” message is displayed by the Windows SmartScreen function in Microsoft Windows 8 when you try to run an application (app) or run a setup package, downloaded from the Internet, that Windows do not recognize, or consider as unsafe. This is to protect you against malicious software (malware) which is very common on the Internet today.

In the informative Windows SmartScreen – Anti-Malware Protection in Windows 8 article on our website we discuss this warning message, and Windows SmartScreen, in detail.

Windows SmartScreen - Windows protected your PC

How to remove the warning message
Although this protection is very good and can prevent that malware is installed in your computer, there may be situations when you want to have this function turned off. If you for example are a software developer and frequently download your newly compiled software from the Internet, this message may be somewhat annoying. But it is possible to turn off Windows SmartScreen and stop this warning message from appearing.

In the following article we show you, step by step, how to disable Windows SmartScreen in Microsoft Windows 8:

> How To Disable / Turn Off Windows SmartScreen in Windows 8

Protect your Windows 8 system with Windows SmartScreen

Every time you download a file from the Internet there is a risk that your computer gets infected by virus or another malware. But web browsers and operating systems are getting better and better in their effort to protect a computer against viruses / malware, and in Windows 8 there is a feature named Windows SmartScreen that helps protect your system against malicious software that has been downloaded from the Internet. Windows SmartScreen is reputation-based protection system, and how it works is described in this article on our web site:

> Windows SmartScreen – Anti-Malware Protection in Windows 8