Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Microsoft Security Essentials - Beta

In what I perceive as another apology from M$ for making such bloated code with so many features that the inconvenience for users is only rivaled by the convenience for hackers, Micro$oft has announced that 75,000 lucky souls in the US, Israel, and Brazil (sorry, little Kim Jong Un, no Beta for you!) will get to try it out this replacement for the pitiful Windows Defender. Windows Defender seemed so promising, but just sucked, hassled me about VNC, and sucked some more.

Of course I dashed right over to http://www.microsoft.com/security_essentials/, signed up, was approved, and downloaded the Beta for myself and a friend (she has an Windows7 x64 system, but doesn't know it yet) and installed it. It ran a scan. It found . . . nothing. Not totally unexpected as all I ever do with my XP machine is test software and run Quickbooks. It's not even really a machine - it's running in in a Virtual Box under Mac OS X Leopard. However, I'll rest a bit easier knowing that my current Antivirus - ClamWin has some backup should I ever step in a website I shouldn't have. Call me a glutton for punishment.

**UPDATE 6-Jul-09 The Beta has closed - if you don't have it already you have to wait for the final release.

Monday, June 22, 2009

HP Total Care Backup Manager - First Impression: Total Crap

A friend brought an HP laptop to me. It came with Vista Home Premium, and it would not boot up. It would always stick at the black screen with a cursor that precedes the login screen. No amount of system checkpoint recovery, chkdsk, and replacing the registry files with a base copy did no good. Even the venerable SpinRite (which is completely worth the $80 or so I spent for it - I keep on hoping for a SpinRite 7!) I went for HP's tools as a last resort.

I decided that, prior to attempting to boot Knoppix and move the customer's desired data onto a temporary medium I would see if there was a repair option. Alas, there was not, but there was a handy backup featue that promised to back up all of the data, classified into images, documents, multimedia, and the like. Beautiful!

I proceeded to attach the requested USB storage - an 8GB Lexar stick, which the backup app didn't even deign to recognize. I attached an external 3.5" hdd and the Next button cheerfully lit up. I eagerly pressed it, and, to my horror, it scoured the whole local hdd and proceeded to archive every inane image, document, .wav file, .txt file, countless .png's and .jpg's from numerous crapware HTML documents that came with the computer. The backup took 10 hours.

The reinstall of Vista took considerably less time than that, and, after removing of the crapware the system came with (njdsakfdsaNortonSystemProtectfndjaskf, oops, sneezed), I proceeded to point the system at the external hard drive, run the restore application, and let 'er rip! Well, it's been an hour and a half, and it still shows 0% complete.

A brief search on Google brought numerous complaints of this with no answers to be found. Great - I'll let it set until morning and see what happens.

Meanwhile, I'm contemplating the merits of installing the Windows 7 RC and giving it back to them, or, even more daring, loading it with Ubuntu!

Do any of you have thoughts on this? Please let me know, I'm sure the data restore will finish in a day or two! Way to go, HP, Awesome Backup App, GREAT JOB.


It's morning and I see that the Restore Manager got it's act together - 12 hours later and it's 24%through it's restore. This speaks very poorly of the efficiency of the code that HP is using to backup and restore info. It should be much quicker as it's coming from a USB 2.0 external HDD. Come on, HP, ntbackup works better than this!


Wow, 15 hours later all 30GB or so of data has been restored. If your HP Backup Manager seems like it's doing nothing, give it a day or so, it'll get its act together.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

1 out of 5 my IPCops Behaved Very Oddly Since Sunday NIght

I run somewhere around 25 IPCops in my organization, and one at home. Five of them, including my personal unit, exhibited an odd behavior. On Monday morning Four customers called and said that their Internet did not work. I checked their systems and the IPCop was up and running, VPN's were on. HTTPS worked, but not HTTP. I could ping remote hosts by hostname or IP with no issues from desktops in the Green Zone. Rebooting the IPCop fixed the issue in 3 cases. The fourth case that day I fixed it by unchecking Enabled and Transparent under the Advanced Proxy, save/restart, tested HTTP worked, reenabled the Advanced Proxy and Transparent settings, save/restart, and tested - HTTP worked. This morning my personal unit exhibited the same behavior - rebooting did not fix it, but clearing the Advanced Proxy and Transparent check boxes, save/restart, then re-enabling them, save/restart, and it works.

Since this happened on 1/5 of my boxes during the same time period, and all boxes are on independant public IP's from disparate carriers, I suspect that this was either caused by some function of date and time, by some type of port scanning/probing from the outside, or by a malformed (or maligned) http communication that breaks Squid.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Will Oracle kill OpenOffice.org?

I just finished reading this article on the Register, and I'm almost ready to cry. Oracle acquired Sun. Sun was the main developer of OpenOffice.org, with help from IBM, Novell, and a host of other organizations trying to break the M$ stranglehold on office productivity suites. Oracle is asking OpenOffice.org developers to develop for their new, proprietary platform JavaFX. Think Microsoft Java, but the goose's sauce apparently doesn't apply to the gander!

In 1998 Sun sued M$ over licensing violations, saying that M$ shouldn't be allowed to change the Java systems and code so that they run better on Windows, but ONLY on Windows. Now it appears that Oracle may be trying to corner OpenOffice.org so that it runs best ONLY on JavaFX, their propreitary system that you would have to BUY.

I'd rather lose Oracle than lose OpenOffice.org. I don't directly use or recommend any Oracle products, and I'm willing to bet you don't either. Indirectly you use their products in most any financial or business transaction, but don't let that worry you. It's inevitable - if you boycotted anything that was connected to Oracle you might want to look up the Kaczynski family and see if they have a cabin for sale.

I'm just sayin . . .