Eric Hartwell's InfoDabble
 Wednesday, May 04, 2005
Utilize MySQL's features through .NET [TechRepublic 5/3/2005] MySQL continues to gain market share due to its ease of use and price. The open source community has extended its reach by developing a connector to be used with the .NET Framework. Learn more about using MySQL in .NET applications and get extended examples of how to work with MySQL data via .NET.
1:53:17 PM    

 Saturday, April 23, 2005
Bypass SETLOCAL/ENDLOCAL

Sometimes it would be nice if we could use SETLOCAL and ENDLOCAL to preserve the initial environment but still change one variable "permanently", in the SORTDATE and SORTTIME examples, for example. I recently saw a posting at the alt.msdos.batch.nt newsgroup where Phil Robyn solved this problem in an ingenious way:
SET TEST=
SETLOCAL
:: Variable test is set within local environment, which means
:: its changes are flushed by the next ENDLOCAL command
SET TEST=Some new value
:: By using the ampersand and the following SET command on the
:: same line as the ENDLOCAL command, %TEST% is resolved before
:: the ENDLOCAL command "restores" its value
ENDLOCAL & SET TEST=%TEST%
SET TEST
This way the environment variable TEST and its value are preserved in spite of the ENDLOCAL command.
See my Conditional Execution page for an explanation of the ampersand's usage
2:21:18 PM    

 Friday, March 18, 2005
First, let me say you can bookmark IP-specific address. For those that don't know, you type http:// in the address bar followed by the IP number of the site you want to go to. Once there, you can bookmark it. I have a number of my very important sites bookmarked by IP # - e.g., my bank, credit card company, etc.
Here are some popular IP addresses:
Microsoft - 207.46.245.92
E-bay - 66.135.208.89
Google 64.233.187.104
Amazon 207.171.175.35
PayPal - 216.113.188.66
CitiBank - 192.193.210.24
Also, here is a DNS tool for converting addresses from the www. form to the IP number: http://www.ndo.com/servlets/dominfo. Regarding IP address, please note that if a site is addressed by a server company rather than on its own server, you may not be able to reach the address just by putting in the IP number. For instance, if you convert my company's web address (www.keystonecomputerconcepts.com) to an IP # (38.113.20.12) and then try to go directly to the site using the IP number, you get an error page. That's because we are hosted by a server hosting service.
Post by: johnnybluenote on 02/23/05 CNet article discussion: Alarm over pharming attacks: identity theft made even easier
8:36:18 AM    

 Monday, March 14, 2005
With Synergy, all the computers on your desktop form a single virtual screen. You use the mouse and keyboard of only one of the computers while you use all of the monitors on all of the computers. You tell synergy how many screens you have and their positions relative to one another. Synergy then detects when the mouse moves off the edge of a screen and jumps it instantly to the neighboring screen. The keyboard works normally on each screen; input goes to whichever screen has the cursor. GNU GPL
7:03:28 PM    

 Saturday, March 12, 2005
Halo 2 Legendary: Beat the boarders, Cairo Station, first landing bay
This tactic can make getting past this section quicker on legendary. Run up to the doorway and simply hose down the Covenant with continuous fire from dual plasma rifles. This kills most of the grunts (especially when they're still in the boarding tube) and knocks out the elites' shields so your marines can finish them off. Duck back through the doorway whenever your shields get too low or a grenade comes your way. After the last wave, you'll probably have a few elites left, but you can deal with them the normal way. As a bonus, you have ALL the grenades at your disposal. [by Eric Hartwell]
Also, see Cairo Station Legendary Walkthrough for other hints for this level, and Halo 2 Legendary Tactics & Walkthrough for general Legendary hints.
10:57:44 AM    

 Sunday, February 27, 2005
Halo 2 Legendary: Beat the boarders, Cairo Station, second landing bay
This tactic can make getting past this section a lot easier on legendary. When you walk into the room, go to the right, into the room and up the stairs. K[ill] the Grunts on the turrets, then look for a crate next to one of the guns. Choose the gun you want to man (preferably facing the enemies), and melee the box directly behind it. Try to position the gun in the center of the box. Now, press X to man the turret. You should go into the box, and be sticking partially out, but still able to aim and shoot. In this position, so long as you positioned the box well, the Covenant won't see you, even as you fire the turret at them. [Halo 2 Trick FAQ by Kyle Barr].
Also, see Cairo Station Legendary Walkthrough for other hints for this level, and Halo 2 Legendary Tactics & Walkthrough for general Legendary hints.

8:22:10 AM    

 Sunday, October 10, 2004
How do I create one Formula URL (link) field that deals with both UPS and FedEx tracking numbers?
[QuickBase Support Center KnowledgeBase Article #74]
  • UPS: http://wwwapps.ups.com/etracking/tracking.cgi?tracknum=[Tracking #]&accept_UPS_license_agreement=yes&nonUPS_title=QuickBase%20Package%20Tracking%20System
  • FedEx: http://www.fedex.com/cgi-bin/tracking?action=track&language=english&cntry_code=us&initial=x&mps=y&tracknumbers=[Tracking #]
  • FedEx Ground: http://www.fedex.com/cgi-bin/tracking?action=track&language=english&cntry_code=us&initial=x&mps=y&tracknumbers=[Tracking #]
  • Fedex Freight: http://www.fedexfreight.fedex.com/protrace.jsp?as_type=PRO&emailfax=&as_entryPage=Pro%20Number&as_pro= [Tracking #]

11:53:00 AM    

 Wednesday, September 22, 2004
Dynamic HTML Lab: Pop-up Calendar 1.1. The first maintenance release of our new, but already popular, Popup Calendar includes better navigation bar styling, the ability to clear read-only input fields and fixes a couple of minor problems missed the first time around. By Peter Belesis. 0916 [WebReference News 9/16/2004]
4:31:09 PM    

 Saturday, September 11, 2004
Dynamic HTML Lab: Pop-up Calendar 1.0. In a much anticipated article, Peter Belesis returns with this piece on a DHTML Lab Popup Calendar. Among its many features: No knowledge of JavaScript is necessary; only a beginner's aquaintance with HTML and CSS syntax is all that's needed. 0809 [WebReference News 8/30/2004]
9:20:57 PM    

 Friday, June 18, 2004

Export HTML Data into Excel Files
Nowadays, many reports are generated as HTML documents for access on the Web. This tip shows you how to export that HTML data as it is (including all the CSS styles, tables borders, etc.) into an .xls file which can be saved and used as you need it. Include the following code in the .jsp page that generates the report/HTML page:

 String mimeType = "application/vnd.ms-excel";
 response.setContentType(mimeType);

The output is transferred to an .xls document.
Please Note: Microsoft Excel must be installed on the client's computer for this to work.
By MS Sridhar SridharMSmail@yahoo.com


8:44:02 AM    

 Saturday, May 08, 2004
Constraints and unit testing.

One thing that I would like to enforce in my unit tests are constraints. Examples of constraints are things like read-only properties and sealed classes. If a developer comes along and removes one of those constraints by making the property read-write, or by unsealing the class, those changes are not detectable by simply recompiling the code.

One way to enforce constraints is to write unit tests that assert their existence. To help folks out, I've written the beginnings of a utility class that can be used with NUnit tests. Here's the source code for that class for folks who are interested. Feedback about these ideas would be greatly appreciated.

Public Class AssertEx : Inherits Assertion 

Public Shared Sub AssertReadOnlyProperty(ByVal t As Type, ByVal propertyName As String)
Dim pi As PropertyInfo = t.GetProperty(propertyName) 
Assert(String.Format("Read-only property {0} in class {1} cannot be read from",
 propertyName, t.FullName), pi.CanRead) 
Assert(String.Format("Read-only property {0} in class {1} can be written to",
 propertyName, t.FullName), Not pi.CanWrite) 
End Sub 

Public Shared Sub AssertWriteOnlyProperty(ByVal t As Type, ByVal propertyName As String) 
Dim pi As PropertyInfo = t.GetProperty(propertyName) 
Assert(String.Format("Write-only property {0} in class {1} can be read from",
 propertyName, t.FullName), Not pi.CanRead) 
Assert(String.Format("Write-only property {0} in class {1} cannot be written to",
 propertyName, t.FullName), pi.CanWrite) 
End Sub 

' TODO: Implement a visibility property assert - must be internal for example. need to use GetAccessors() 
' and assert visibility based on property get/set method visibility 

Public Shared Sub AssertNotInheritableClass(ByVal t As Type) 
Assert(String.Format("Class {0} cannot be derived from", t.FullName), t.IsSealed) 
End Sub 

Public Shared Sub AssertNonSerializable(ByVal t As Type) 
Assert(String.Format("Class {0} cannot be serializable", t.FullName),
 Not t.IsSerializable) 
End Sub 

' TODO: Assert that a class must be abstract 
Public Shared Sub AssertNotCreatable(ByVal t As Type) 
Dim cis() As ConstructorInfo = t.GetConstructors() 
Dim ci As ConstructorInfo 
For Each ci In cis 
Assert(String.Format("Non-private constructor found in a class {0} that must not be creatable",
 t.FullName), ci.IsPrivate) 
Next 
End Sub 

End Class 
[iunknown.com]
11:42:05 AM    

 Wednesday, January 07, 2004
Windowpaper XP FREE Wallpaper customizer: lets you customize the background of your folders with wallpapers in the same way you can customize your desktop. It allows you to select a custom background image for any folder you want, specify the font color (to make it stick out), and instantly preview the results. Very neat, easy to use tool for those that like to customize their workspace.[Lockergnome Windows Fanatics]
8:39:19 PM    

 Thursday, October 16, 2003
TrayDevil v1.04 [56k] W98/2k/XP FREE  TrayDevil can minimize any window to the system tray, and also acts as a quick reboot and shutdown tool. It enables you to simply Shift + left-click on any window (program, folder, website, etc.) and it will be minimized to the system tray, using its standard windows icon. In addition, you can use the middle mouse key to quickly close windows, hide the system clock, and reboot your PC by double-clicking the TrayDevil icon. Small and easy to use. [MWA] [Lockergnome Windows Daily]
7:56:47 AM    

 Thursday, October 09, 2003
 Saturday, September 20, 2003
Step-by-Step Guide for Setting Up a PPTP-based Site-to-Site VPN Connection in a Test Lab. This step-by-step guide describes the configuration of a PPTP-based site-to-site virtual private network (VPN) connection using five computers in a test lab. This guide assumes you know TCP/IP, IP routing, and the capabilities of the Windows Server 2003 Routing and Remote Access service. [Microsoft Download Center]
8:23:12 PM    

 Monday, September 08, 2003
Expat is a library, written in C, for parsing XML documents. It's the underlying XML parser for the open source Mozilla project, perl's XML::Parser, and other open-source XML parsers. As demonstrated in my benchmark article, it's very fast. It also sets a high standard for reliability, robustness and correctness.
8:34:22 AM    

Ingenious email-harvester honeypot. Merlin Mann outlines an ingenious procedure for identifying spammers' email-harvesters' IP addresses and user-agents: In each page I serve, I include a bogus email address, encoded with the date of access as well as the host IP address and embedded in a comment. [Apache's server-side includes are great!] This has allowed me to trace spam back to specific hosts and/or robots. One of the first I caught with this technique was the robot with the user agent "Mozilla/4.0 efp@gmx.net", which always seems to come from argon.oxeo.com - it's identified it above as simply rude.
8:22:27 AM    

 Sunday, September 07, 2003
 Sunday, July 06, 2003
List of free ASP.NET and .NET tools. A new site up with a list of ASP.NET and .NET tools. Also supports an RSS feed.[Sean  Early' Campbell & Scott 'Adopter' Swigart's Radio Weblog] 8/12/2003
6:51:53 PM    

Prevent unauthorized software on your network with software restriction policies Windows Server 2003 gives you more power than ever before, including the power to control installed software on workstations. Here's a look at how you can use software restriction policies to keep unauthorized software off your network.
7:53:42 AM    

 Wednesday, June 04, 2003
Lost Windows Product Key?. One of our guys had to reload one of his boxes, and he couldn't remember which key he used on which machine.  Then he used one of these tools to find out.
8:39:00 PM    

Changing the product key on Windows XP Changing a Windows XP product key doesn't always require a complete reinstallation of the OS. We'll show you how to get the job done by editing the registry or using a Microsoft WMI script.
8:29:04 PM    

free XML SOAP Monitor
free Authentic 5 XML document editor
8:23:13 PM    

 Friday, May 30, 2003
Troubleshoot bad RAM with DocMemory from CST Your RAM could be the culprit if you're experiencing random Windows errors or Windows installation problems. Get the details on why you should use DocMemory, a freeware program from CST, to speed your diagnosis.
4:21:49 PM    

iCarbon v2.1.3 {free personal copier} Combine the printer and scanner into a photo copier using iCarbon, which works with TWAIN-compatible scanners. The utility makes the scan/print operation work with one click. After installing, the program immediately and accurately recognized my printer and scanner. The preferences offer inverted image printing. The simple interface displays options for the number of copies, zoom percentage, quality, contrast, and type of copy (RGB, for example). The printer prints the image from the scanner or the Webcam. If you're in a hurry to get a printout of a picture, this takes a two-step process and combines it into one.
4:19:06 PM    

 Thursday, May 29, 2003
DIAGNOSING LOGON DELAYS In this column, I discuss diagnosing and solving logon delays caused by three specific problems. I use the term "logon delay" to include the time it takes for the logon screen to disappear after you enter valid credentials, plus the time it takes for a Windows XP or Windows 2000 system to display the desktop after the logon box disappears. Logon delays can occur in three situations: when you log on interactively at a workstation or server, when you connect to a VPN server, and when you connect to resources on a standalone server that requires local credentials, rather than domain credentials. Profile problems are also a common source of logon delays, but they're complicated and outside the scope of this discussion--a large profile or an inaccessible or corrupt profile can appear to hang a system or result in an empty desktop after a delay of 10 minutes or more.
6:30:36 PM    

 Sunday, May 25, 2003
Build a floppy-based router/firewall with Freesco
Freesco is an open source router/firewall solution with small hardware requirements and minimal administrative overhead. It's perfect for your small IT budget. Find out how to get it up and running.
8:55:35 PM    

 Thursday, May 15, 2003
wshwizard - HTML Application Template to be used as a VBScript Interface Have you ever needed a rich interface for a WSH script? Most available options require the deployment of at least one custom control - not this one.
11:42:45 AM    

MSDN Licenses are Perpetual
The licenses for the tools inside your MSDN Subscription are licensed to you for development and test purposes in perpetuity . This means that even if your subscription were to expire, you can still use the tools for development and test purposes, for ever. To learn more about how to become an MSDN Subscriber visit the MSDN Subscriptions Centre.
11:35:34 AM    

Panicware's Pop-Up Stopper Free Edition
11:33:00 AM    

 Wednesday, May 14, 2003
4t Tray Minimizer v3.2 [564k] W9x/2k/XP FREE {Minimizing apps to system tray}
Free up taskbar space with 4t Tray Minimizer, which minimizes applications as system tray icons instead of buttons on the taskbar. Minimize any open application to the system tray instead of the task bar by right-clicking the minimize button (in the upper right hand corner of applications, there are three buttons: minimize, reduce, and close). Hide any application without displaying its icon in the system tray and restore it by using a list of hidden applications in the Main Window of the program. The program also has the ability to create a Quick Launch style menu for your favorite (or more often-used) applications. Although you can use Quick Launch elsewhere, this may be easier for some to use as opposed to the built-in Windows Quick Launch. It does come with customized keyboard shortcuts. When you start using the program for the first time, it starts with an optional step-by-step tutorial. The free version doesn't store customized settings or come with technical support, however. [Lockergnome Windows Daily]
10:50:45 AM    

 Monday, May 12, 2003
Distribute prebuilt system configurations with VMware
Admins often need to copy and rebuild exact replicas of system configurations--especially in a testing network. VMware makes it quite simple to transport complete system configurations of virtual machines.
9:40:58 AM    

 Sunday, May 11, 2003
You can simplify your life considerably - at least as far as registry settings are concerned - by investing in a tool called WinGuides Tweak Manager from WinGuides Network. WinGuides Tweak Manager covers some 1,100 registry tweaks for Windows, Internet Explorer and Office. The list of tweaks is regularly updated and downloaded to your copy of Tweak Manager on demand. At $30, this product is a steal.
9:58:47 AM    

 Saturday, May 10, 2003

Q. How can I change the product key when I activate my Windows XP installation?
When you install XP, you must enter a product key to register the software with Microsoft. However, if you want to use a different key to activate the software after installation (e.g., maybe you originally used an existing key during installation and have since purchased a new license), perform the following steps:

  1. Start the activation process as usual (go to Start, All Programs, Accessories, System Tools, then select Activate Windows).
  2. Click "Yes, I want to telephone a customer service representative to active Windows", then click Next.
  3. Click the "Change Product Key" button.
  4. Enter the new key, then click Update.
  5. Click Telephone, then continue with the activation.

8:20:44 PM    

 Wednesday, May 07, 2003
Access Hotmail From a POP3 Mail Client with Hotmail Popper Many people want to get their Hotmail using Outlook 2000/2002, Eudora or some other POP3 client. They don't want to have to use the web browser to get their Hotmail messages. It makes sense to use a POP3 client, since it's much easier to save and organize your mail when it's downloaded to your email program. Hotmail Popper is a free program that allows you to download messages from your Hotmail account.
10:05:26 PM    

Hekko Virtual CD v1.02 [1.2M] W2k/XP FREE Hekko Virtual CD enables you to create a virtual CD-ROM drive on your PC, which allows you to play CDs without having to insert the actual disk. This not only eliminates the need to switch disks frequently, but also increases the performance of games, since the hard drive can usually be accessed much faster than the CD. Hekko Virtual CD works with most games, music or software programs. You can image as many CDs as you need and the load the virtual image into the drive by using the tray icon. The program uses HekkoScan(tm); nearly any CD can be imaged and played. [MWA] [Lockergnome Windows Daily]
7:13:15 AM    

 Wednesday, April 30, 2003
Code That Debugs Itself - (C++) A set of simple, flexible, and powerful debug macros that allow you to catch most of the programming errors in early stages of development. These macros stimulate writing the "code that debugs itself."
7:34:40 PM    

The Matrix Codebreaker. Remember The Matrix, when they do the phone trace and the numbers keep scrolling until the correct number is found? This script randomly chooses the numbers until the correct one is chosen. A cool way to display your messages. [WebDeveloper.com]
9:27:37 AM    

MyIE2 Online v0.7.829 beta [657k] W9x/2k/XP FREE {Internet Explorer multi-page browser} Netscape has it. Mozilla has it. Opera has it. Internet Explorer does not have it. What is it? Tabbed browsing. The nice thing about tabbed browsing is that you have only one window open for multiple Web pages instead of one Window per Web page. The MyIE2 interface is similar to the Internet Explorer interface and adds the opened Web sites just beneath the address box. It also comes with its own options separate from IE's where you can select options for filtering popups, windows, favorites, tab appearance, and plug-ins. It also adds a few more system icons such as auto-scrolling, undo, and utility manager. There are two "x" icons, one for closing the current window and the other for closing all windows. Microsoft should adopt this feature; with all other browsers doing it, the company is bound to copy it and add some of its own proprietary stuff to it. If the download or Web site is slow, go to WebAttack for a faster download. [Meryl] [Lockergnome Windows Daily]
9:25:29 AM    

EIF Releases With absolutely no fanfare, Enterprise Instrumentation Framework has released.  EIF lets you instrument your applications with tracing information that's meant to be left in while the application is in production.  Tracing can be turned on and off, and directed to various sinks, simply by modifying a configuration file at run time.  You can trace user operations, class operations, requests as they travel through a distributed application, or just about anything else you can imagine. Check it out. MSDN Subscriber Downloads | Content | Developer Tools | Enterprise Instrumentation Framework.[Sean 'Early' Campbell & Scott 'Adopter' Swigart's Radio Weblog]
9:24:35 AM    

 Tuesday, April 29, 2003
FREE: Hard-link Creator for Windows UNIX fans have been familiar with hard-links for quite some time. A hard-link makes it appear as though a file is located in more than one place at a time, when in reality, only one copy exists. [Eric Hartwell: Ping]
8:40:05 AM    
 Monday, April 28, 2003
DrawSWF v1.2.7 [633k] W9x/2k/XP FREE {Drawing program} It's a simple interface with basic tools for drawing lines, entering text, selecting line thickness, drawing a shape, or selecting a pen for free drawing. Every move you make is the order in which the animation will be presented unless you rearrange it in the drawing objects dialog box. Click on the Play button to preview your work in progress. When you complete your work of art, export it as a Flash file and select the speed of the animation. The file is saved as a SWF file, which is a Flash file. [Eric Hartwell: Ping]
 April 19, 2003
Speed-up Windows XP Startups

Allan Kelly wrote in and reminded us of a great tip on how to speed up your Windows XP start up times. Just clean out your prefetch folder. Windows XP keeps track of your frequently used programs and sets them up so that they start up faster. However, sometimes a lot of junk gets into the prefetch folder and can slow things down. Try this:

  1. Open the Windows Explorer and go to c:/WINDOWS/Prefetch folder.
  2. Click the View menu and then click the Select All command. This should highlight all the files in the folder. Once all the files in the Prefetch folder are selected, press the DELETE key on the keyboard to delete these files. Click Yes to send the files to the Recycle Bin.
  3. Restart your computer. You should find that Windows XP starts a lot faster!
Do this once a week and your Windows XP startups will always be snappy.
WinXPnews™ E-Zine Tue, Apr 15, 2003 (Vol. 3, 15 - Issue 71)
Client Statistics Version1.0. This script shows a user his/her statistics, including IP, autoexec.bat, the C: Drive on Windows, the User Agent, Browser Statistics and more. [WebDeveloper.com]
Quick Mail. This applet allows you to add email forms directly on your web pages. The applet connects to the SMTP daemon on your server and sends e-mails without of any CGI on the server. This feature makes it ideal for all kind of users. [WebDeveloper.com]
Sparky. Sparky displays the shape of an image using animated, glittering stars. Both the image and the shape of the star can be modified. Because of the complexity of the visual effect, the applet precalculates the images of the animation into the memory. [WebDeveloper.com]
 April 14, 2003
Configuring Access Points. Most wireless LAN access point default configurations enable plug-and-play operation; however, these out-of-the-box configurations can limit performance and security. Learn how to get the most out of your wireless LANs by effectively tuning access points. [WebDeveloper.com]
InternetWeek.com: Review: Open-Source Software Accurately Sorts Your Mail. "POPfile is a proxy that functions as an intermediary between any POP3 mail client, such as Eudora or Outlook Express, and your POP3 mail server..." [Linux Today]
 April 13, 2003
Cool Mac and Windows utilities.

There are a number of really cool utilities that I really can't live without, and I thought I'd gather them here to generate a bit of discussion. In the Windows corner:

Dave's Quick Search Deskbar. This is by far the coolest utility that I have ever used. I haven't used anywhere near all of its features, but here's a list of the ones that I use often:

  • Typing in arbitrary text will search for that text using Google
  • amaz search terms /books will search for the search terms in the books section of Amazon
  • fedex tracking number will check the status of a fedex shipment
  • radix number will display that number in octal, hex, and binary
  • 0xhex= will convert a hex number to decimal
  • num1 op num2= will act as an inline calculator

There's tons of other features that I haven't used yet. Best of all, it's free!

Popup Stopper. I can't surf without this free utility that effectively blocks popup ads from appearing. However, there are times when it blocks legitimate applications, so you need to remember to turn it on and off as well.

Windows command completion. This lets you complete directory paths / filenames by pressing the tab key in a command shell. For example you can type "c:\Pro" and then hit the tab key to get "c:\Program Files" in the command prompt. This feature is enabled by default in fresh installs of Windows XP. For those of you who don't have this feature turned on, use regedit to set HKLMSoftwareMicrosoftCommand ProcessorCompletionChar=0x9.

In the Mac corner:

LaunchBar: This utility lets you use the keyboard to launch applications and open Finder windows. For example, you can type "CMD-Space itu ENTER" to launch iTunes or "CMD-Space /L ENTER" to navigate to open a Finder window for the /Library directory. This saves me a lot of time every day.

MenuMeters: This utility places icons in your Menu bar that shows network activity, disk I/O, memory usage and cpu usage. It's great to be able to see what your computer is up to at all times in a nice and compact UI.

Since I'm new to the Mac world, I'd love to hear about more utilities that you can't live without in the Mac world.

[IUnknown.com: John Lam's Weblog on Software Development]
 April 7, 2003
Code generation links.
I spent some time this evening googling to see who else is talking about code generation.
This first article by Matt Stephens is a very good overview of the problem space. He motivates the problem well, and motivates why code generation is a good fit. In particular, he spends tie talking about generating the data access layer of an application, an area that I often see as being some of the "low hanging fruit" for code generation. Unfortunately, Matt doesn't provide any concrete examples of code generation in action, which makes his paper feels a bit too abstract.
Next, I found an article that talks about generating code using XSLT. Jeff Ryan walks through a fairly complete sample where he builds a JavaBean component using XML and XSLT. Christian Georgescu wrote a similar article in the C/C++ Users Journal where he talks about generating C++ code from XML and XSLT. I like Christian's motivation part of his article.
Based on my experience, writing a code generator in XSLT is difficult since the syntax of XSLT tends to obscure what the generated code looks like. Maintaining an XSLT-based code generator would be difficult for non-trivial applications. The thing that I really like about gslgen is that the syntax of the code generator is very clean and simplistic. Over the next week or so, I'll publish a few sample code generation scripts using gslgen to illustrate the utility of the technique.[IUnknown.com: John Lam's Weblog on Software Development]
Rechargable battery ur-reference. An amazing reference guide to rechargable batteries, exhaustive and deep without being incomprehensible to non-engineers. Link Discuss (via Gizmodo) [Boing Boing Blog]
The big list.. This is a great list of .NET tools and resources... http://dotnetweblogs.com/FMARGUERIE/Story/4139.aspx [via ShowUsYour-Blog!] This is good enough to parrot, as-is. A lot of these tools are also listed here.[Sean 'Early' Campbell & Scott 'Adopter' Swigart's Radio Weblog]
.NET Tools Links. I just stumbled across a great list of .NET Tools that Fabrice put together.[ScottGu's Blog]
 April 4, 2003
Webcam for MSN Messenger [552k] W98/2k/XP FREE
{Video instant messenging} It's your chance to smile for the world using this download, which works with most any Web camera. The trick is that both sides of the conversation need to have MSN Messenger v5.0, a compatible Web cam, and this free software to use it. Luckily, we still had the old, cheap Web cam and we plugged it in. In minutes, Paul and I were having a videoconference / Web chat. [Lockergnome Windows Daily]
 April 3, 2003
Working with C#: Unit Testing and Test-First Development. Eric Gunnerson explains test-first development and provides a working example that shows you how to apply this concept when writing your own applications. [MSDN: .NET Framework and CLR]
 April 1, 2003
 March 28, 2003
SF-200 Slide Feeder. A previous entry reported on the acquisition of a Nikon CoolScan 4000 ED 35mm slide scanner; this is on the addition of an SF-200 slide feeder.... [ongoing]

They just released a version 3.40 of AIDA32.
By far, it's the best system inventory tool I've ever had the pleasure of using. From hardware to software, it'll tell you everything you never wanted to know about that PC of yours. There's a version small enough to fit on a floppy disk, but even the "big" version weighs in just shy of two megabytes. Forget the rest, folks. This is it. The UI is not without its fair share of quirks, but the utility is quite usable. There's even an integrated SMART tool to help you monitor the health of your hard drives (should they support the protocol). I don't wanna dive into a full-fledged software review, but I thought that this update would be of interest to you. For troubleshooters, it's a godsend. Oh, and it's free for individuals like you and me - did I mention that? Not that it wouldn't be worth paying for, of course.  [Lockergnome Windows Daily]


Query Strings for Windows Media Player v6.4 through v9
http://support.microsoft.com/?kbid=315959
{Troubleshooting Windows Media Player} There are switches for using with Windows Media Player to assist in troubleshooting. These switches are added in the form of a query string to the end of a requested URL. For example, the command line starts with: mms://server/content.wmv? After the ?, add the switch with its value. Switches include WMThinning, WMBitrate, WMContentBitrate, WMReconnect, WMCache, WMFecSpan, and WMFecPktsPerSpan. If you want to change the number of times that Windows Media Player will automatically try to reconnect to the content, enter: mms://server/content.wmv?WMReconnect=5. In this case, I am telling it I want it to try five times before giving up. If you don't like your PC to be a quitter, up the number. [Meryl] [Lockergnome Windows Daily]
 March 26, 2003
Add Crash Reporting to Your Applications - (C++)
How to generate a crash report for your application that can be debugged by using WinDbg or VS.NET. (The article and source code were updated.) http://www.codeguru.com/debug/CrashReport.html
Hotmail Using C# -- A HTTPMail Client Under .NET - (.NET/C#)
Learn how to connect to a Hotmail mailbox, enumerate inbox mail items, and send and retrieve e-mail, using C# and the XMLHTTP component. Sample code accompanying this article contains a .NET assembly, demonstrating that connecting to Hotmail via HTTPMail can be as simple as working with any other mail protocol such as POP3, IMAP4, or SMTP. http://www.codeguru.com/cs_internet/HttpMail.html
 March 21, 2003
How can I use Group Policy to restrict access to the Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE) configuration tabs?

IE includes seven configuration tabs that you can access either from the Tools, Internet Options menu or from the Internet Options Control Panel applet; The tabs are

  • General--Basic options for configuring the home page, temporary Internet file settings, and history
  • Security--Settings for configuring Internet security options (e.g., ActiveX options)
  • Privacy--Privacy settings for Internet connections
  • Content--Settings for Internet connection ratings and personal profile information
  • Connections--Settings for configuring dial-up and firewall options
  • Programs--Executables used for various Internet programs
  • Advanced--Advanced options

You can use Group Policy to disable any of these tabs. First, start Group Policy Editor (GPE) for a specific policy (e.g., from the Microsoft Management Console--MMC--Active Directory Users and Computers snap-in, right-click a container, select Properties from the context menu, select the Group Policy tab, then select Edit). Navigate to User Configuration, Administrative Templates, Windows Components, Internet Explorer, Internet Control Panel. There, you'll see an option for disabling each of the seven tabs.


Automatically Delay Delivery of Messages in Outlook 2000

Do you often find yourself wishing that you could retrieve or change the message you just sent? Well, here's a way that you can delay delivering messages by having them stay in your Outbox for a specified time, so that you can easily change or delete them. If you use Microsoft Exchange Server you can use the Recall Message feature to recall individual messages.
  1. On the Tools menu, click Rules Wizard, and then click the New button.
  2. In the Which type of rule do you want to create list, click Check messages after sending, and then click the Next button.
  3. Click the Next button to have this rule apply to all messages, or, if you want to limit the messages that the rule applies to, in the Which condition(s) do you want to check list, select any options you want.
  4. In the What do you want to do with the message list, select defer delivery by a number of minutes. (Delivery can be delayed up to two hours.)
  5. In the Rule Description box, click the underlined phrase, a number of, and in the Defer delivery by box, enter the number of minutes you want messages held before sending.
  6. Click the OK button, and then click the Next button.
  7. Select any exceptions, and then click the Next button.
  8. In the Please specify a name for this rule box, type a name for the rule, and then click the Finish button.

That's it. Now, all your messages will be held in your Outbox for a specified time after you click the Send button.


SysInternals has had some significant updates to the industry renouned free tools! Visit Site
NewSid allows you to assign a specific SID to a computer - perfect for rebuilding a server or workstation right down to its security id. Version 4.0 introduces support for Windows XP and .NET Server, a wizard-style interface, allows you to specify the SID that you want applied, Registry compaction and also the option to rename a computer (which results in a change of both NetBIOS and DNS names).
 March 18, 2003
Olymars.

Some pretty cool stuff here.

We've all had to write the same repetitive code over and over again such as the following in order to connect to a db.

  • Write SQL code and create at least 4 stored procedures per table in the database (Insert, Update, Delete and Select SQL statement)
  • Write SQL code and create custom stored procedures that will reflect the complexity of their database diagram (Example: write a SQL statement that can update several tables in one call, write SQL statement that can bring back data from several tables using inner join statement…)
  • Write ADO.Net code (using VB .NET, C# .NET or whatever language supported by the .NET platform) that is responsible for calling those stored procedures. Developers have to take special care with the parameters type to be declared as long as the parameters direction (input, output…)
  • Write abstract classes that map exactly to their database tables for easy data retrieving
  • Write Windows or/and Web forms that can manage (Add, Update, Delete) their database tables content

Well supposedly the tool Olymars does this all for us.  Very, very interesting.

So far after an intial appraisal it looks very cool.

[Sean 'Early' Campbell & Scott 'Adopter' Swigart's Radio Weblog]
 March 16, 2003
Altova Offers Free Software License for Authentic 5 Browser Enabled XML Document Editor. Altova Inc. has announced the public availability of Altova's XML document editor product Authentic 5 under a free software license. Authentic 5 is a customizable, light-weight, and easy-to-use XML document editor. It allows business users to create and edit content through a web-enabled interface that resembles a word processor. Authentic 5 supports WebDAV and HTTP, with real-time document validation and multilingual spell checking. [The XML Cover Pages]
 March 3, 2003
Ad-aware 6 Released. After a long wait, Ad-aware 6 has finally been released! For those who don't know, Ad-aware is a program that will scan and remove nasty spyware from your computer. Unfamiliar with spyware? Well it's software that is installed on your computer by file sharing programs and various webpages that can monitor your shopping habits, launch pop-up windows at will, and worse. Best of all Ad-aware is free! You'll be shocked to see what it finds on your computer. [RedFlagDeals.com]
XML Web Services are kewl......

And Darren is pointing everyone to Dan Wahlin's wonderful XML videos (and site):

Dan Wahlin's done it again... he's posted 4 excellent Windows Media movies that show a simple example for getting started with WSE

http://www.xmlforasp.net/codeSection.aspx?csID=81

In it learn how to:

  1. Wire-up WSE in your project
  2. Implement IPasswordProvider
  3. Check a web request for security tokens
  4. Make a web request with added security tokens

Dan is the man when it comes to XML and Web Services! If you haven't checked out the other samples on his site then I highly recommend it!

[Alex Lowe's .NET Blog]
 February 14, 2003
Update on dual monitors.

Scott Hanselman commented on my dual monitor migration. He pointed me to a really cool utility called Ultramon. [1] So far I really love the task-bar feature which gives me per-desktop task bars. Unfortunately, the taskbar feature doesn't seem to coexist well with ATI's Hydravision utility which gives me additional hardware accelerated virtual desktops, so I only have the per-desktop task bars on my first virtual desktop.

Werner Vogels chimes in with geek one-upmanship ... he has THREE flat panels on his desktop. And they're not just any flat panels, these are big huge honking expensive flat panels. Damn, I'm jealous :)

Don "luddite" Box comments about how much he likes the larger 1024 x 768 pixels on his Thinkpad x30. Hey - how many pixels do you need to run emacs and type all those angle brackets anyways? :)

[1] This brings back memories of my old Commodore PET days where there were a lot of machine-language monitor (think 6502 debugger) utilities. The original machine language monitor on the PET (remember sys 4?) was woefully limited - it could only do hex dumps and display the register stack. This spawned a whole cottage industry of utilities; first there was SuperMon, ExtraMon and eventually ... UltraMon.

[IUnknown.com: John Lam's Weblog on Software Development]
 February 13, 2003
I really wish more devs would make the switch.

Over the past few days, I've installed a couple of client applications that were clearly written by devs who run as local administrator on their computers. In both cases, these applications wrote to Program FilesApp Name directory. In both cases, they mistakenly thought that "they" owned that directory. And by "they", I mean the guy who wrote the app thinks that they owned that directory, but that's incorrect. In reality, the administrator who installed their application onto a user's computer owns that directory. And once the user tries to run that application, bam! It blows up in their face.

There's a whole bunch of areas on the computer that are off-limits to regular users, and for good reason. Among them are HKLM, Windows, and Program Files. Remember that keys like HKCR really map to HKLMSoftwareClasses. It is really difficult for devs to build software that runs correctly under restricted accounts (like any account that belongs only to the MachineUsers group) unless they themselves run under such an account. So, please ... make the switch!

There's really nothing that I regularly do during development that I cannot accomplish by running under a regular user account. When I occasionally need to do some administrator-like things, I either temporarily create a new administrator command shell via the runas command, or I log out and log back in as admin to perform those tasks (setting ACL's using Explorer is one of those tasks).

[IUnknown.com: John Lam's Weblog on Software Development]
Sequential I/O performance.

This morning, I was doing some research on sequential I/O performance, and re-read this excellent research paper published by Leonard Chung and Jim Gray at MSR. One of the interesting security-related performance issue raised in this paper can be found in Section 4.4, concerning file pre-allocation:

"When growing a file, it is important to write it in sequential order. Otherwise Windows writes each block twice: once to zero the "gap" and once to write the actual data when the need write finally is issued".

It is necessary to "zero the gap" to prevent reading data that has not been previously written. Otherwise an attacker would be able to extend a file, and attempt to read the data that was there before. Windows prevents this by zeroing out the bytes in the file to guarantee that 0 is returned when reading data that has not been previously written.

The performance gap is quite severe - write throughput drops by 50% due to the need to write the data twice to disk. Writing to the end of a file does not incur this penalty.

[IUnknown.com: John Lam's Weblog on Software Development]
Living the dual monitor lifestyle.

I loved the SyncMaster 172T so much that I bought another. And once I got my motherboard problems out of the way, I'm happily running a 32MB ATI AIW RADEON and a 64MB ATI RADEON 7000 PCI dual-monitor setup.

One of the really cool features that ATI provides with their drivers is Hydravision support. It lets me run multiple hardware accelerated virtual desktops (up to 9) and I can switch between desktops using their tray icon utility (in theory I can do this using a keystroke but I can't get it to work). The switch is lightning-fast - much faster than the Virtual Desktop Manager utility found in Windows PowerToys. I find that I now use one desktop for email / news stuff, and another desktop for dev stuff (running full VS.NET full screen and debugging a GUI app on another monitor was the main reason I switched to this setup). I suspect I'll use a third desktop for blogging-related stuff.

Since the 172T is a DVI panel, I can report that there isn't much difference between a DVI and a VGA signal input (the RADEON 7000 only has VGA output), but there is a difference. The text is a tiny bit sharper using DVI, and the whites are whiter - I'm having a hard time trying to make the whites match exactly between the two monitors.

[IUnknown.com: John Lam's Weblog on Software Development]
 January 31, 2003
Holy RegWorm Batman! Windows Product Activation Attacks Gotham City
You bought and paid for your version of Windows XP Home or Professional. You have the proof - your wallet feels much lighter! Like many people, you put things off and ignore what appear to be the plaintive pleas of the RegWorm emanating from your system tray. But then the day of reckoning arrives and the dreaded worm says your "grace period" has expired. You click "Yes" and POW! You're logged off. To give that ole RegWorm a shot of vitamin B12 and get back in action check out: http://www.winxpnews.com/rd/rd.cfm?id=030107CO-RegWorm
Web Site Reports That You Must Enable Cookies
You've probably run into cookie problems if you use Internet Explorer to get your Hotmail messages. There's a link in the message and you click on it. You then get an error that says you must have cookies enabled. The problem is that you do have cookies enabled. This article describes the problem and gives you a fix: http://www.winxpnews.com/rd/rd.cfm?id=030114CO-Cookies
Hard Disk May Become Corrupted When Entering Standby or Hibernation
Those giant hard disks that are larger than 137 GB are a lot of fun. You feel as if you can "save" the world - on a single disk. But here's some scary news: Your hard disk might become corrupt when it enters Standby or Hibernation in Windows XP. What's up with that? A small problem with atapi.sys causes the problem. Better head on over and get the fix before you lose your masterpieces! http://www.winxpnews.com/rd/rd.cfm?id=030114CO-Atapi_Fix
Connecting to Multiple Remote Desktops on Your Private Network

Many of you have multiple Windows XP computers running Remote Desktop on your home or SOHO networks. It would be great to be able to connect to all of these computers over the Internet, but that usually requires multiple IP addresses bound to the Internet interface of your cable or DSL router. John Canning wrote to us with a great trick that allows you to make all of your Remote Desktops available from the Internet using just a single Internet IP address:

  1. Click Start, click the Run command and type in "regedit" (without the quotes) to open the Registry Editor.
  2. Browse to the following location in the left pane
    HKEY LOCAL MACHINESystemCurrentControlSetControlTerminalServerWinStationsRDP-Tcp
  3. In the right pane, right click on PortNumber and click the Modify command.
  4. In the Edit DWORD dialog box, click the decimal option and change the port number to whatever you want. Click OK and restart your computer.
  5. Log into your router and use port forwarding to forward the port you chose to your IP address on the network.
  6. Now when connecting to your computer from another computer, you have to type the following in the connection box for remote desktop
    YourIPaddress:YourNewPort (that is a colon in the middle). For example: 66.245.178.25:3388

Great tip! Thanks, John.

WinXPnews™ E-Zine Tue, Jan 14, 2003 (Vol. 3, 2 - Issue 58)


Free Wireless Lockdown Tool!

SecureWave just released a free security solution that, I dare to say, is of interest to many of you.

In two words, they have released a Windows 2000/XP solution that allows you to prevent the use of Wireless cards --unless you actually want your users to use them of course. Many companies spent lots of money on their firewalls and, those that make use of it, even WLANs. However, today the focus has been on securing the communication between the WLAN endpoints and the base stations -- but what about if you do not want them in the first place?

Under Windows 2000/XP you (as an end-user) just need to plug one of these wireless cards in that machine and bingo -- security polices are out of the window. If you want to make sure that WLAN cards cannot be used your will love WaveLock. I know the developers myself, these are reliable people. Wavelock is free, not supported but definitely interesting. check it out at:
http://www.w2knews.com/rd/rd.cfm?id=030120TP-Wavelock

Sunbelt W2Knews™ Mon, Jan 20, 2003 (Vol. 8, #3 - Issue #409)


Certain Programs Do Not Work Correctly If You Log On Using a Limited User Account

Have your limited users experienced the following kinds of problems when running certain programs on their Windows XP computers?

  • Program does not run.
  • Program stops responding (hangs).
  • Receive notification of run-time error 7 or run-time error 3446.
  • Program does not recognize that a CD-ROM is in the CD-ROM drive.
  • Program does not allow you to save files.
  • Program does not allow you to open files.
  • Program does not allow you to edit files.
  • Program displays a blank error message.
  • You cannot remove the program.
  • You cannot open the Help file

The problem is that some programs just don't work correctly when using a limited user account. For a BIG list of programs that don't work, and workarounds for the problem check out:
http://www.winxpnews.com/rd/rd.cfm?id=030121UP-Limited_Accounts

WinXPnews™ E-Zine Tue, Jan 21, 2003 (Vol. 3, 3 - Issue 59)


Anatomy of a RegWorm (Windows Product Activation/WPA)

Do you live in fear of the day when Windows XP's built-in timebomb will explode on you? That timebomb (WPA or RegWorm) can render your computer useless and require you to get on the phone and beg Microsoft to let you use the computer and software for which you paid big money. What triggers the bomb to explode? Whenever you start your Windows XP computer, the bomb checks on the status of the following hardware devices:

  1. Video adapter
  2. SCSI disk adapter
  3. IDE disk adapter
  4. Network Interface Card (NIC) MAC Address
  5. Amount of RAM
  6. Processor
  7. Processor Serial Number
  8. Hard drives
  9. Hard Drive volume serial number
  10. CD-ROM/CD-RW/ DVD-ROM

The worm calculates a number associated with the devices and compares it to previous values. You can change up to 6 components in this list during the first 120 days. The bomb is triggered when you change the 7th (at that point you may wish for Linux). The counter is reset every 120 days. At least, that's how it's suppose to work. But keep in mind that software makes errors all the time, so the timebomb might go off even if you haven't changed anything! For a detailed discussion of WPA, check out: http://www.winxpnews.com/rd/rd.cfm?id=030121SE-WPA

WinXPnews™ E-Zine Tue, Jan 21, 2003 (Vol. 3, 3 - Issue 59)


How to Put an Entire Drive into a Folder

Frank Lund wrote with a great tip on something you can do with Windows XP that you could never do with those old Windows 9x/ME operating systems. This feature, called "Volume Mount Points" (also supported in Windows 2000) allows you to associate an entire partition with a single folder on your hard disk. Frank recommends using the Volume Mount Points feature to free up disk space on a C: drive that's getting too full. If your C: drive is getting too full, you'll love this trick:

  1. Create an empty folder on your C: drive called "NewDrive".
  2. Install your new hard disk and open the Disk Management console. You can access Disk Management from the Run command. Type diskmgmt.msc in the Run command and click OK.
  3. In the Disk Management console, right click on the new disk and click New Volume. Click Next when the Welcome to the New Volume Wizard dialog box appears.
  4. On the Select Volume Type page, select the Simple option. Click Next.
  5. On the Select Disks page, make sure the correct disk (the new one) is selected and then type in the size of the partition you want to create. The default is to use the entire disk. Type in the size in the Select the amount of space in MB text box and click Next.
  6. On the Assign Drive Letter or Path page, select the Mount in the following empty NTFS folder option and then type in the path to the NewDrive folder. Click Next.
  7. On the Format Volume page, accept the default settings and click Next. Click Finish and the volume will be created and formatted.
  8. Find some folders that are taking up a lot of space. Right click on those folders and click the Cut command. Then click on the NewDrive folder and use the Paste command. Note that you shouldn't do this with Program Folders and System Folders, as there are many files in use in those folders so you won't be able to reliably copy them to the new location. The Cut and Paste operation moves the files from their old folders into the new one.
  9. Notice that all the files still appear to be on the C: drive. This makes it easy for you to save all your stuff to the C: drive, but actually use the space on the new disk.

You can, of course, name the folder whatever you wish instead of NewDrive.

WinXPnews™ E-Zine Tue, Jan 21, 2003 (Vol. 3, 3 - Issue 59)


Automatically Defrag Your Hard Disks with the Built-in Defragger
The official Microsoft documentation says you can only defrag one disk at a time and that you can't schedule the defrag run (at least, using the Task Scheduler). http://www.winxpnews.com/rd/rd.cfm?id=030128TI-Defrag  But that's not completely true. If you're an adventurous type you might want to check out these scripts that allow you to schedule and defrag multiple disks at once. You can find the scripts and instructions at:
http://www.winxpnews.com/rd/rd.cfm?id=030128TI-W2KDfrag Make sure you download and use the XP scripts when scheduling defrags for your XP systems. You can also schedule defrags using the new command line defrag included with XP. For instructions on using see:
http://www.winxpnews.com/rd/rd.cfm?id=030128TI-XP_Defrag

 January 10, 2003
SET A DEFAULT E-MAIL FORMAT FOR SPECIFIC RECIPIENTS

Outlook lets you configure the default format for new e-mail messages and gives you three options: HTML, rich text, or plain text. If you've configured Outlook to use HTML as the default, each new message will start with HTML as the format, enabling you to add graphics, formatting, and other rich media. However, some users prefer to receive text-only e-mail messages. You can configure the default mail format to be different from Outlook's overall default format for specific users. This means that new messages you send to these users will be created using the format specified for the recipient, not those you set as the default for Outlook.

Follow these steps to set the default message format for a contact in Outlook 2002:

1. Open Outlook's Contacts folder and double-click the contact to open it.

2. In the E-mail field, double-click the recipient's address to open the E-mail Properties dialog box.

3. From the Internet Format drop-down list, choose the format option you want to use for this contact. For example, choose Send Plain Text Only if you want Outlook to use only plain text for this recipient.

You can repeat this process for any other contacts for which you want to set a specific message format. But keep in mind that the setting is address-specific, not recipient-specific. You can send messages to a particular contact using different mail formats, depending on which e-mail address you use.

If the contact has more than one e-mail address, open the contact form and click the down arrow beside the e-mail address field. Select a different address, then double-click the address to set its default format.

If you're running Outlook 2000 in Internet Mail Only mode, on the Contact form, just below the e-mail address you'll see an option named Send As Plain Text. Select this option to send to the recipient using plain text. If you're using Corporate/Workgroup mode, you can only change a recipient's send options if the address is stored in the Personal Address
Book (PAB). Open the PAB, double-click the contact, and click Send Options
to specify the message format for the recipient.
[TechRepublic - 2 Jan 03]


Electric Xml Toolkit: Free And Easy To Use. Working with XML is often tedious and time consuming. But the free toolkit Electric XML simplifies many of these tasks so you can better utilize your time. [Builder.com - 17 Dec 02] [Eric's incoming newsletters]
MOVE A USER'S CERTIFICATE TO ANOTHER COMPUTER
Outlook has several functions that require a security certificate. If you don't have a backup of the certificate and the system crashes, the user will have to obtain a new certificate. You can back up and restore certificates using several different methods, including Outlook.
To use Outlook to back up and restore certificates, you first need to export the certificate to make a backup. Follow these steps:
1. In Outlook, choose Tools | Options and click the Security tab.
2. Click Import/Export and select Export Your Digital ID To A File from the Import/Export Digital ID dialog box.
3. Click Select, choose the certificate to export, and specify a path and name for the file (use a .pfx file extension). As an option, you
can also enter and confirm a password to protect the file.
4. If the user has Internet Explorer 4, select the Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.0 Compatible option. Then click OK.
Next, follow these steps to import the certificate into the new system:
1. In Outlook, choose Tools | Options and click the Security tab.
2. Click Import/Export, click Browse, and browse for the certificate file.
3. Enter the password for the file.
4. In the Digital ID Name text box, type the name by which you want the certificate to be shown. You'll typically enter the user's name or
e-mail address or mailbox name.
5. Click OK to import the certificate.
Backing up user certificates is particularly important if your users purchase certificates from a commercial certificate authority. You can mitigate that cost by installing and using Windows 2000 Server or .NET Server's Certificate Services to generate your own certificates. [TechRepublic - 19 Dec 02]
News: Microsoft Releases Mbsa 1.1. Microsoft recently released a new version of Microsoft Baseline Security Analyzer (MBSA), which Shavlik Technologies developed for Microsoft. New features in MBSA 1.1 include Exchange and Windows Media Player (WMP) security update detection, full HFNetChk 3.81 support in the MBSA command-line interface, support for Microsoft Software Update Services (SUS) during security update scans, compatibility with Microsoft Systems Management Server (SMS) 2.0 Software Update Services Feature Pack, and detection for multiple Microsoft SQL Server instances. [Security UPDATE - 18 Dec 02]
Identify Trends With The Microsoft Data Analyzer. VISUALIZE DATA USING MICROSOFT DATA ANALYZER
Do your clients' eyes glaze over when you present them with a spreadsheet full of data? Microsoft Data Analyzer allows you to give your clients an easily understandable picture of their organizations' data so they can identify trends. Bob Watkins explains. [TechRepublic - 18 Dec 02]
Six Tips For Employing Closed Wireless Networking. Wireless networks must be closed off to outsiders--a difficult task considering that wireless networks are initially available to anyone within their range. Find out how to protect your wireless network from unwanted users. [TechRepublic - 9 Dec 02]
Get A Snapshot Of Your Server's Performance With Net Statistics. The Windows Performance Monitor gives detailed information about your server's performance, but it takes time to configure and use. Learn how to use the Net Statistics command to get a quicker view of how your servers are performing. [TechRepublic - 9 Dec 02]
The System File Checker And Wfp. Windows File Protection (WFP) provides a built-in mechanism that in most cases prevents a hotfix, service pack, or application from replacing crucial system files with earlier versions of those files. Read more about this tool and learn a few caveats for using it at the following URL: [Windows & .NET Magazine UPDATE - 3 Dec 02]

The Year At A Glance
Outlook 2000+ Year View, from Planet Software Australia displays an entire year's calendar. It turns Outlook into a year planner, letting you block out days at a time for vacations, conferences, and other daylong and weeklong events. You don't need to be a developer to use this custom control, though, because the download includes an installer that sets up an Outlook folder home page that shows the year planner for any calendar folder you select. The Year View control isn't just for viewing events--you can also create new events. Right-click anywhere in the calendar, then choose New Appointment and pick a color category. The cursor turns into a pencil. Drag it across the days for which you want to create the event. A new Outlook appointment will appear with the category and start and end dates already filled in. All you need to add are the subject and any other details. You can create as many copies of the Year View.htm file as you need to create folder home pages for different calendar folders. Just edit the copy to change the Folder parameter that determines which Outlook folder the control displays. For public folders, you'll probably want to put the .htm files in a folder on your intranet Web server. You could also place the outlookyearview.cab file in a network location and edit the Year View.htm file to point to that file instead of the local drive. [Exchange and Outlook UPDATE - 7 Jan 03]


Tip: Displaying Multiple Folders Within A View
Q: Can I show more than one folder within a view--such as the Day/Week/Month view that combines Calendar and Tasks, only with different folders?
A: Aside from the built-in Calendar + Tasks view and the Outlook Today page, Outlook out of the box provides no views that combine data from multiple folders. The solution is to use the Outlook View Control (OVC) in a folder home page. The OVC is an ActiveX control that displays a specific Outlook page. Folder home pages are simply Web pages displayed within Outlook, and they can host multiple copies of the OVC, with each instance of the control showing a different folder. You can add the OVC to a Web page, just as you would any other control, and set the necessary properties.
The original version of the OVC for Outlook 2002 had a serious security vulnerability, described in Outlook View Control Exposes Unsafe Functionality. Any Outlook 2002 update or Office XP service pack after August 16, 2001, has a more secure OVC. A new version is also available for Outlook 2000, either as a separate download (as described in the security
bulletin) or in Office 2000 Service Pack 3 (SP3).
After you use the OVC to create a Web page, make it the home page for an Outlook folder by bringing up the folder's Properties dialog box and entering the path to the Web page on the Home Page tab.
For more information about the OVC, including sample code, see the Microsoft article "OL2002: General Information about the Outlook View Control".
[Exchange and Outlook UPDATE - 3 Dec 02]
 January 9, 2003
It's A Great Time To Check Your Security. It's 2003, and you might want to start the new year by checking the security of all your systems. Toward that effort, I've located several security checklists to assist you. The checklists cover Windows XP; Windows 2000; Windows NT; Microsoft IIS, SQL Server, Exchange Server, and Internet Explorer (IE); various UNIX systems; and Apache. Keep in mind that these are just a few of the many checklists available. To find more, use your favorite search engine.
- Windows XP
LabMice.net hosts a "Windows XP Security Checklist." The checklist is divided into three categories: basic, intermediate, and advanced. The items covered include user accounts, groups, passwords, hardware, ports, shares, risky subsystems, and risky features.
http://www.labmice.net/articles/winxpsecuritychecklist.htm
Microsoft also provides a security checklist for XP Home Edition and XP Professional. According to the related TechNet Web page, the checklists "outline the steps you should take to reach a baseline of security with Windows XP Home Edition and Windows XP Professional computers, either on their own or as part of a Windows NT or Windows 2000 domain." The checklists cover such matters as shares, policies, and accounts and passwords.
http://www.microsoft.com/technet/security/tools/chklist/xpcl.asp
- Win2K
LabMice.net also hosts the "Windows 2000 Security Checklist," which provides the same thorough coverage provided in the LabMice.net XP security checklist.
http://www.labmice.net/articles/securingwin2000.htm
Microsoft also provides checklists for Win2K Professional and Win2K Server. The comprehensive lists are on the TechNet Web site.
http://www.microsoft.com/technet/security/tools/chklist/w2kprocl.asp
http://www.microsoft.com/technet/security/tools/chklist/w2ksvrcl.asp
- NT
If you have NT systems on your network, check out the NT security checklist that Windows IT Library hosts. Originally compiled by Rob Davis with the help of several others, the checklist includes information from Microsoft's Web site. The list addresses such concerns as protecting files and directories, NetBIOS, dangerous services, passwords and hashes, registry entries, resource sharing, auditing, caching, and memory paging.
http://www.windowsitlibrary.com/content/121/18/toc.html
- IIS
Microsoft offers the Internet Information Server (IIS) 4.0 Baseline Security Checklist, which helps you better secure the popular Web server. The list discusses installing the minimum Internet services required, setting appropriate authentication methods, setting appropriate virtual directory permissions and partitioning Web application space, setting appropriate IIS log file ACLs, enabling logging, setting up Secure Sockets Layer (SSL), disabling or removing all sample applications, removing the IISADMPWD virtual directory, removing unused script mappings, and disabling Remote Data Services
(RDS) support (see the first URL below). Microsoft also provides a Web-based checklist form that helps you keep track of which configuration actions you've taken on a Web server. You'll find the form, which contains hotlinks that describe each item listed, at the second URL below. The company also provides a lockdown tool for IIS, which you'll find at the third URL below. Finally, you'll find a useful checklist for Internet Information Services (IIS) 5.0 at the fourth URL below.
http://www.microsoft.com/technet/security/tools/chklist/iis4cl.asp
http://www.microsoft.com/technet/treeview/default.asp?url=/technet/secur
ity/tools/chklist/iischk.asp
http://www.microsoft.com/technet/security/tools/tools/locktool.asp
http://www.microsoft.com/technet/security/tools/chklist/iis5cl.asp
- SQL Server
SQLSecurity.com provides the "SQL Server Security Checklist" to help you secure SQL Server installations. The extensive list covers such matters as service packs, protocols, user accounts, dropping dangerous procedures, deleting stored procedures, logging, alerts, groups and roles, and user logins.
http://www.sqlsecurity.com/checklist.asp
- Exchange Server
The IMIBO Web site discusses Exchange Server security and offers sample code that shows you how Microsoft handles security inside the server. The site's information addresses subjects such as logons, directory objects, security descriptors, modifying access, and public folder access control.
http://www.imidev.galaxite.net/exc/security/contents.htm
DevX provides "Eight Tips to Secure Exchange." The tips cover areas such as ports, underlying OS services, server location, passwords, using communities, dial-up access, and administrative rights. http://archive.devx.com/upload/free/features/exchange/2000/10oct00/jh001
0/jh0010.asp
You can find additional information about Exchange Server and Outlook security at Slipstick Systems. At the Slipstick Web site, search on the term "security."
http://www.slipstick.com
- Microsoft IE
Microsoft provides a rudimentary Web page that explains IE security. The page includes settings for SSL and security zones. The most important thing to remember about IE security is to load the many available patches.
http://www.microsoft.com/technet/security/tools/chklist/iecl.asp
- More Microsoft Security Tools and Checklists
For more complete access to Microsoft security checklists and tools, visit the company's TechNet Web site. The site includes items for most of Microsoft's enterprise products (although not for SQL Server).
http://www.microsoft.com/technet/security/tools/tools.asp
- UNIX OSs
CERT offers a "UNIX Security Checklist v2.0." The checklist covers the basic OS, major services, patches, and details about specific UNIX OSs. The checklist appendix lists security tools, commands, and five "essential" steps to secure your UNIX systems before you put them into operation.
http://www.cert.org/tech_tips/usc20_full.html
- Apache HTTP Server
If you're among the many people who run Apache HTTP server, you'll be happy to know that the Apache Server Project hosts a Web page, "Security Tips for Server Configuration." The content includes permissions on server root directories, server-side includes, Common Gateway Interface
(CGI) in general, aliased CGI, dynamic content, system settings, and protecting server files.
http://httpd.apache.org/docs/misc/security_tips.html
Finally, Windows & .NET Magazine has published many in-depth articles that discuss how to better secure your systems. Be sure to use the Web site search engine to find material about the security topics most important to you. [Security UPDATE - 1 Jan 03] [Eric's incoming newsletters]
 December 31, 2002
 December 17, 2002
Generate XSD Schemas by Inference Microsoft's new XSD Inference Tool generates schemas from multiple XML source documents and solves most of Xsd.exe's problems
 December 9, 2002
Quick Launch of Multiple Browser Windows. This script allows you to open multiple browser windows for your favorite websites with one click from your desktop. [WebDeveloper.com]
 December 3, 2002
.NET kills CAPSLOCK (and Insert too). Steve Lucco's .REG file becomes a WinForms app thanks to the Minister of WinForms himself. [Don Box's Spoutlet] 2002-10-21 - .NET kills CAPSLOCK (and Insert too) I recently showed Chris Sells the registry magic to kill the CAPSLOCK key once and for all. Chris noted that killing that useless Insert key would be a good idea as well. Moments later, through the miracle of .NET, the world has Scancode Mapper which does the grungy stuff for you. My insert key is now as dead as the CAPSLOCK key.
 November 28, 2002
January 2002;|  Sue Mosher  |  Outlook Tips and Techniques  |  InstantDoc #23147

Outlook Tips--Displaying Multiple Folders Within a View

Can I show more than one folder within a view—such as the Day/Week/Month view that combines Calendar and Tasks, only with different folders? —Brud Rossmann

Aside from the built-in Calendar + Tasks view and the Outlook Today page, Outlook out of the box provides no views that combine data from multiple folders. The solution is to use the Outlook View Control (OVC) in a folder home page. The OVC is an ActiveX control that displays a specific Outlook page. Folder home pages are simply Web pages, and they can host multiple copies of the OVC, each displaying a different folder. You can add the OVC to a Web page, just as you would any other control, and set the necessary properties.

The original version of the OVC had a security vulnerability. For Outlook 2002, visit the Microsoft Office Download Center and download and install the latest update for Outlook 2002. Any update after August 16, 2001, has the more secure OVC.

After you use the OVC to create a Web page, make it the home page for an Outlook folder by bringing up the folder's Properties dialog box and entering the path to the Web page on the Home Page tab.

For more information about the OVC, including sample code, see the Microsoft article "OL2000: General Information About the Outlook View Control"


Windows Video Editing Pulls Ahead Of The Mac, Part 2. Greetings,
In "Windows Video Editing Pulls Ahead of the Mac, Part 1" (available at the URL below), I compared Windows Movie Maker 2 and Apple Computer's iMovie. But the article caused an interesting backlash from the Macintosh community after various Mac-advocacy sites linked to the story. I think Apple's more virulent fans are missing the point. In the article, I compared two consumer-oriented products, not Adobe Systems' Adobe Premiere and Apple's Final Cut Pro, the professional-level tools that were inexplicably most-often cited as an argument against my apparent pro-Microsoft stance. But I've used Mac-oriented video-editing tools for more than a year and a half, and until Windows Movie Maker 2 arrived, I was firmly in the Apple camp when it came to digital video.
http://connectedhomemag.com/visual/articles/index.cfm?articleid=27312
As I noted in Part 1, however, I've changed my mind. Thanks to technology such as Windows Media 9 Series and excellent products such as Windows Movie Maker 2 and Sonic Solutions' Sonic MyDVD 4 (which I discuss below), Windows digital-video technology has pulled ahead of the Mac. I don't believe that Apple will sit still while Microsoft usurps its lead--indeed, an Apple rep recently told me that the company is working to make iMovie even simpler and more powerful than it already is--but Windows Movie Maker 2's superiority should be alarming to Mac fans. Windows Movie Maker 2 is so much better than iMovie, and its underlying Windows Media Video (WMV) 9 technology is so infinitely superior to MPEG-4 that I'm not sure what Apple can do at this point.
More Windows Movie Maker 2
In Part 1, I discussed the Windows Movie Maker 2 UI and how you can use the software to capture and edit movies. I glossed over the technical aspects of editing because Windows Movie Maker 2 includes an amazing AutoMovie feature that will satisfy most consumers' editing needs. But running AutoMovie doesn't necessarily mean you're finished with your
project: If you want, you can go back and manually edit an AutoMovie-edited movie--including changing titles and transitions--as you would any other movie. This capability makes Windows Movie Maker 2 a compelling solution for beginners and advanced users alike.
Whether you use AutoMovie or manually edit the movie, Windows Movie Maker 2 offers several options for saving the final product, many of which address limitations with the previous Windows Movie Maker version. After you select File, Save Movie File, up pops the stunningly simple Save Movie Wizard, which offers choices such as My Computer, Recordable CD, E-mail, The Web, and DV camera. For the highest quality, you might choose My Computer, which automatically selects "Best quality for playback on my computer" or lets you choose from various parameters, including fit to file size or a list of quality ratings from 48KBps to 2.1MBps. If you choose the latter option, the wizard displays important information such as bit rate and display size, which lets technical users understand how long the process will take and how many resources it will consume. The other Save Movie choices are similar. If you select The Web, you get choices such as Dial-up Modem, ISDN, and DSL/Cable Modem, or you can select from more technical, bit rate-oriented choices.
Windows Movie Maker 2 doesn't let you write to a DVD from within the application; Microsoft will incorporate integrated DVD writing in the next Windows version (code-named Longhorn). Microsoft tells me, however, that all recordable DVDs come with DVD moviemaking software, and that WMV 9 is compatible with virtually all these products. But until recently, most of these products weren't very exciting. Here's the product that changes all that.
MyDVD 4
At the PC EXPO trade show in June 2002, I got my first look at MyDVD 4, a consumer-oriented package for creating DVD (and CD-based) movies. Previous versions of MyDVD were decent but not exceptional. The new version, however, is best of breed. It features a Windows XP-style UI that looks like something Microsoft would have built; almost overly simple tools for adding movies, photo slideshows, and submenus to a disc-based movie; and a set of decent-looking and extensible themes that even include motion menus, similar to Apple's iDVD.
For people who want to use MyDVD 4 as a complete solution, Sonic includes basic capture tools and a bundled copy of ArcSoft ShowBiz in a high-end version; ShowBiz was previously my favorite PC-based video-editing tool. But when you combine MyDVD 4 with Windows Movie Maker 2 and the underlying Windows Media 9 Series technologies, these tools become a one-two knockout punch to consumer-oriented video editing and creation. MyDVD 4 couldn't be simpler: You can drag and drop your Windows Movie Maker 2-created movies directly onto a menu in MyDVD 4 or simply select the Get Movies button. Each movie has its own button along with a still frame from the underlying movie, and you can even select which frame in the movie you want to display on the button.
Creating photo slideshows is just as easy (although you might arguably better use Windows Movie Maker 2 for that task): Select the Add Slideshow button, select your photos, choose which photo to use as the button image, add an optional musical background, and you're done. Or you can also select the slide duration, the types of transition to use between each photo, and which background color to use; the aspect ration of most photos will leave blank space on the top and bottom (or left and
right) of the screen.
As you add content to the disc, a small graphic in the lower left of the application window displays the available space, so you always know where you stand. You can preview your creation in the application before burning the movie to disk and change themes on the fly. You can even create your own themes. MyDVD 4 has one small limitation: You can't edit the graphical links to submenus in the sense that you can't apply an image to these buttons. That's a shame, and the product's one glaring omission.
One final note about MyDVD 4: The product includes an intriguing technology called OpenDVD that lets you store special information about the DVDs and CDs you create that you can use later to reedit--and reburn--your creations. So you can create a disc and later choose to change it, even if you lose your MyDVD project on the hard disk.
MyDVD 4 costs about $50 ($70 for the version that includes ShowBiz). I highly recommend it for anyone who wants a simple and elegant way to create DVD movies on the PC.
Sonic MyDVD 4 [Connected Home EXPRESS - 27 Nov 02] [Eric's incoming newsletters]

Increase Efficiencies With Kerzner's Project Management Maturity Model

A growing number of organizations involved with application software development and integration are adopting structured project management methodologies. Unfortunately, this adoption of practices is often incomplete or piecemeal at the enterprise level.
Sometimes a single organization will implement structured project management practices at the departmental level rather than across the enterprise. This practice often undermines the potential benefits championed by structured project management, ultimately discouraging further adoption.

In order to address project management methodology adoption issues such as this, several strategic enterprise-level processes have been proposed. One approach is the Project Management Maturity Model, which was first offered by project manager expert Harold Kerzner. This model consists of a series of five adoption levels that indicate an organization's project management maturity status.

Conceptually in this model, you can determine an organization's maturity status by measuring the extent an organization exhibits or adheres to the requirements of project management effectiveness as described within Kerzner's model tiers.

Once an organization's level is determined, the maturity model provides a strategic plan or process to lead the organization to the next tier. This cycle continues as the organization exhibits increasing capability and adoption tier by tier, ultimately leading to the organization's full adoption of the model.

Here are the key elements of Kerzner's Project Management Maturity Model:

LEVEL 1: COMMON LANGUAGE
This level is typified by an organization's conceptual understanding of the importance of project management practices and of their potential benefits. The organization also understands the need for a common language to describe associated terminology.

LEVEL 2: COMMON PROCESSES
An organization recognizes that it needs to develop and install common processes so that it replicates one project's successes on subsequent projects. Organizations at this level also recognize the benefits and applicability of incorporating project management processes in other enterprise methodologies.

LEVEL 3: SINGULAR METHODOLOGY
At this level, organizations understand the synergistic effect of combining all corporate methodologies into a singular approach centered
around project management. The organization further recognizes that the singular approach simplifies process control.

LEVEL 4: BENCHMARKING
Organizations realize they need to monitor and benchmark processes to affect continuous improvement. The organization must analyze its own practices and processes to identify target elements for improvement metrics.

LEVEL 5: CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT
The organization is fully incorporating project management principles and is continually monitoring the information obtained from benchmarking to determine if improvements should be implemented into the singular methodology.

By definition, once the enterprise achieves full compliance with the model, it's rewarded by the potential benefits associated with structured project management methodologies, including cost savings, improved productivity, increased customer satisfaction, best practices development, increased project efficiency, and so on.

Scott Withrow has more than 18 years of IT experience, including IT management, Web development management, and internal consulting application analysis.
[Builder.com - 27 Nov 02]

 November 24, 2002

Oops! True IT blooper #77: Pain in the password

By Matthew A. DeBellis
12 Nov 2002, SearchWindowsManageability.com

While still funny, password bloopers are more like daggers. They hurt IT pros more than the average misstep.

After all, one of the most important duties of IT pros is to secure the networks of their organizations. It's a serious responsibility, and IT pros must walk a fine line: they must secure networks without angering end users with over-the-top security measures. Users must buy in to the password system -- or else it fails.

IT pro Charles Rummings recently set up a new password scheme at his organization, a university. He felt the scheme was a good one. It was secure yet simple enough to not upset users. So he thought.

At the end of one Friday, Rummings strolled through the enrollment services department. He noticed a user, clearly ready to leave for the weekend, typing something into her PC. Then she grabbed her coat and made for the door.

Rummings asked what she had typed. The user, irked, snapped at him.

"The lady informed me that because I had yelled at her for writing her password on a Post-it and leaving it on her PC, she was going to type her username and password in the logon boxes," Rummings said. "That way she would just have to hit 'Enter' in the morning and not have to remember the info so early in the morning.

"I give up!" Rummings said.

 November 22, 2002
3 Downloads I Absolutely Couldn't Work Without.  [AnchorDesk - 8 Nov 02] Textpad (32-bit) is a no-nonsense text and HTML editor that offers all the features you need for fine-tuning Web pages and content, including color syntax highlighting, macros, and great formatting tools. For us, being able to format text at 80 characters per line is indispensable. This download also offers advanced features for more hard-core Web programmers. (Shareware/Windows)
Working With Xml Entities. XML entities are often overlooked in the XML dialect, but they provide a powerful vehicle for XML developers. Learn how to effectively use them in your DTDs as placeholders or to retrieve external data. [Builder.com - 28 Oct 02]
 November 21, 2002

ANATOMY OF A DISK HARDWARE FAILURE

By John L. Joseph
Diskeeper Development Section, Executive Software

INSIGHT eLetter - Volume 7, Issue 10 November 2002

Last week, I went through some hard times and I thought I would share them (and the final solution) with you. My main development system, running Windows XP, used an IBM DTLA-307045 IDE/ATA 46.1GB disk drive, manufactured October 2000, as a Master on IDEcontroller 0. It had several partitions, but it used the first partition (C:,~6GB) as an NTFS system and boot volume* with 4096-byte clusters, and the second partition (D:,~10GB) was an NTFS boot volume with 16K-byte clusters. (I decided to go with 16K clusters on the D: drive since Windows XP supports defragmentation of volumes with cluster sizes up to 64K bytes.)

As is my practice (and as I have recommended in our newsletter), I used the D: volume as my primary boot, and used the C: volume as a backup boot. The rest of the disk was a volume containing my development tools and source. On Wednesday, I came in and flipped my system on. Windows XP took an awfully long time to go through its boot sequence, and sat at the screen with the pulsing progress bar for about 10 more minutes than usual. Then a blue-background screen appeared and told me "Inaccessible boot device". Gulp.

I shooed everyone out of my office and began the diagnosis. Yes, the drive was installed. Yes, the BIOS saw it. Yes, the BIOS disk geometry parameters were right. Reboot. "Inaccessible boot device". This was not good. Of course, I have a backup boot, so I booted to it. It took a long time, but it came up! The drive with my sources on it was accessible, so I copied the recently modified files to the server and began looking further. Any attempt to access the D: drive was met with a four-pulse buzzing sound and a locked-up system for about 10 minutes, then I could use the C: boot again.

In fact, the sound was just like this: http://www.geocities.com/bontemps4/drive_noise.mp3

At this point I couldn't afford to dawdle over the disk drive; I had to have a workable development environment operational on that machine right away to get the salvaged code into the day's build. I spent the rest of the day reinstalling software onto a new drive that wasn't having hardware problems. Later (much later!) the next day I had enough time to look into the problems on the drive. I connected the drive to a totally different machine (as a slave drive, not the system drive) and got the same symptoms. The D: drive simply would not mount, and every file on it was apparently lost. But I don't give up that easily. I copied a tool called DSKPROBE to the machine I was working on and set to work finding out exactly why this particular partition wouldn't mount.

DSKPROBE.EXE is a marvelous little tool provided by Microsoft and I got my copy from the Windows 2000 support tools:
http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;en-us;301423
It's also available in the Windows NT4 Resource Kit. The neat thing about DSKPROBE is that it can read "raw" drives; accessing the "unmountable" drive presented no problems. In the boot-sector for NTFS volumes is a pointer to the MFT and the MFTMirr. Both of these areas on the volume contain NTFS metadata, and I knew that the problem had to be in the metadata, because otherwise the drive would mount. I was actually suspecting that the problem was in the $Volume file (NTFS metadata file 3) because that's a key file for determining the volume parameters. But, being methodical, I made sure that the first 1024 sectors on the volume could be read; they could. This meant a key piece of data needed for booting XP was accessible. Then I tried reading the first 1024 sectors of the MFT (by using the MFT pointer in the boot-sector). Again, all accessible. Then I tried reading 1024 sectors of the disk starting at the MFTMirr location. BANG! It failed. (And I had to sit through another ten minutes of the drive making that dreadful noise.)

When I got control of the machine back, I started narrowing down the sector that the problem was occurring in by using a "bracketing" technique. You know: I read in 512 sectors at the same starting address and the problem didn't occur. Then I read in 750 sectors and it did. So I read in 600 and it didn't. And so forth. I finally ended up with sector 632 being the culprit. Any attempt to read sector 632 resulted in the error. Reading sector 631 or 633 didn't produce a problem. So I looked at the contents of sectors 631 and 633 and saw that they contained pieces of the volume bitmap. (The NTFS file $BITMAP contains a bitmap of the usage of clusters on the volume.) So I read in sector 631, changed its contents to have all bits turned on (to indicate that all clusters in that range are in use), and told DSKPROBE to write it back to sector 632. Poof. It wrote without error. Then I exited DSKPROBE and went back to the Disk Management tool and asked it to rescan the disks.

Sure enough, the problem drive now mounted without problems, and all files on it were accessible. This story went down this way because I kept my cool, reserved the evidence (the "bad" disk), and figured out what I was looking at each step of the way. If this problem had happened during the installation of a piece of software, or while running a word processing program, it would have been very easy to claim that the installation had "caused" the problem or that the word processor had "caused" the problem. And if I'd panicked and reinstalled everything, the vexatious sector would have gotten overwritten (just like I did with DSKPROBE) and the blame would have been laid incorrectly on the shoulders of the installation program or the word processor. So why did this happen? I guess I should have been watching the Internet a little closer, or I might have picked up this article: http://www.tech-report.com/onearticle.x/3035  Apparently I'm not the only one experiencing failures on this model of drive, and it looks like I was lucky to have the drive survive two years...others didn't get that much life out of theirs. Regardless, the key point is that I was able to recover everything and isolate and locate the correct problem primarily by keeping my cool. And I have yet another postscript for those loyal fans who wrote in to tell me that Windows XP is immune from 1023-cylinder problems. See this Knowledge Base article:
http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;en-us;282191

* (definitions taken from the Windows 2000 online glossary)

Boot Partition: The partition that contains the Windows 2000 operating system and its support files.  The boot partition can be, but does not have to be, the same as the system partition.

Boot Volume: The volume that contains the Windows 2000 operating system and its support files. The boot volume can be, but does not have to be, the same as the system volume.

System Partition: The partition that contains the hardware-specific files needed to load Windows 2000 (for example, Ntldr, Osloader, Boot.ini, Ntdetect.com). The system partition can be, but does not have to be, the same as the boot partition.

System Volume: The volume that contains the hardware-specific files needed to load Windows 2000. The system volume can be, but does not have to be, the same volume as the boot volume.

 November 20, 2002
"In my shop, we write the test plan before we write the code. You can write your test plan from the requirements - and, if not, the requirements suck."
- Kate Gregory

Gregory: call .Dispose() when you're done for a huge boost in performance. The garbage collector will eventually free up the database connection, but on lightly loaded systems it may not run for a long time.

Be explicit!

Kate Gregory, MSDN Regional Director, Toronto
Kate@gregcons.com

 November 19, 2002
Muckraking for SOAP traffic. If you need a tool to tell you who's using Web services on your network, you've got problems, says Howard Baldwin. But getting the dirt on illicit SOAP-based traffic could be a first step towards clearing them up. [ZDNet Tech Update Today - 5 Nov 02]
DriveSavers recovers critical data. Your backup didn't work and now a hard drive has failed, but don't toss out that damaged drive just yet. DriveSavers Data Recovery specializes in recovering data from damaged drives and restoring it quickly. [ZDNet Tech Update Today - 13 Nov 02]
5 steps to secure mobile data. Having roaming workers with mobile data access is a competitive plus for companies. But when data travels as freely as your workers, that's a big security risk. Follow these five steps to keep your data out of illicit hands. [ZDNet Tech Update Today - 11 Nov 02]

CONTROLLING PRINTED OUTPUT IN CSS2-COMPLIANT BROWSERS

Before Cascading Style Sheets, Level 2 (CSS2), there was no clear definition for printed HTML pages. However, the W3C has defined a set of rules for paged media in CSS2 that allows an HTML author to specify the "look and feel" of printed output separate from the screen output.

The CSS2 defines a "page box" for printed output, and the user agent is responsible for committing that output to actual media. The page box limits the print area of the media through margins and page size and allows for page breaks. The biggest benefit of this is that it gives the HTML author control over the printed format of the HTML pages rather than being the slave to the browser. Controlling this output is done by defining the "MEDIA" attribute in the <STYLE> tag or by using the "@media" at-rule within the <STYLE> body.

The "@page" at-rule is used to set up the page box size and margins. This is done through the "size" and "margin" properties, respectively. The "margin" property can also be split up into "margin-top", "margin-left", "margin-bottom", and "margin-right". Also, the "page-break-before" and the "page-break-after" CSS properties allow the author to insert logical page breaks in the printed output.

All other CSS formatting properties are valid such as "font-size", "background-color", etc. This means that you can create an HTML document that will render in one font on the screen display, while the printed output will render in another font (if the need arises). But I would say that the best use of this would be rendering reports for printed output in HTML.

Let's say that we have a sales projection report that contains tabular data and a graph. Our screen display should contain the data and the graph in a concise, one-screen display. However, our printed media should be one sheet with tabular data and one sheet with a graph. The graph is produced using VML, so this example only works in IE 5.0+. Both sheets should have a heading that defines the data that is being represented. Here is the data:

Month Sales
--------------------------
Jun $25,000
Jul $22,000
Aug $18,000
Sept $20,000
Oct $20,000
Nov $22,000
Dec (projected) $28,000

For this demo, we'll display a simple table with headings and data:

<TABLE BORDER="1">
<THEAD>
<TH>Sales Month</TH>
<TH>Sales Amount</TH>
</THEAD>
<TR>
<TD>Jun</TD>
<TD>$25,000</TD>
</TR>
. . .

The graph data in VML will appear as such:

<DIV style="width:300px;height:300px;border:2px black solid;
overflow:hidden;text-align: left;">
<v:line from="0,0" to="10,0">
<v:textbox inset="0px, 0px, 10px, 10px" style="color:black;font-size:8pt;">
$30,000</v:textbox></v:line>
<v:line from="0,70" to="10,70">
<v:textbox inset="0px, 0px, 10px, 10px" style="color:black;font-size:8pt;">
$25,000</v:textbox></v:line>
<v:line from="0,140" to="10,140">
<v:textbox inset="0px, 0px, 10px, 10px" style="color:black;font-size:8pt;">
$20,000</v:textbox></v:line>
<v:line from="0,210" to="10,210">
<v:textbox inset="0px, 0px, 10px, 10px" style="color:black;font-size:8pt;">
$15,000</v:textbox></v:line>
<v:line from="0,280" to="10,280">
<v:textbox inset="0px, 0px, 10px, 10px" style="color:black;font-size:8pt;">
$10,000</v:textbox></v:line>
<v:polyline points="0,70 40,112 80,168 120,140 160,140 200,112 240,28"
style="background-color:transparent;"></v:polyline>
</DIV>

Now we want to create the sheet so that what's on the screen is different from the printed copy. For the screen, since both the data and the graph are going to appear on the same page, a simple "Monthly Sales Forecast" header should suffice. However, on the printed copy, we'll need a header for both pages: "Monthly Sales Forecast Data" and "Monthly Sales Forecast Graph".

In addition, we don't want the print headers to appear on screen and vice versa. The way to control this is to change the "display" CSS property based on the media device. My headers are nothing more than <H2> tags. So my <STYLE> will appear as follows:

<STYLE>
@media screen {
H2.scrHead {
display: inline;
}
H2.prnHead {
display: none;
}
}
@media print {
.newPage {
page-break-before: always;
}
H2.scrHead {
display: none;
}
H2.prnHead {
display: inline;
}
}
v:* { BEHAVIOR: URL(#default#VML); }
</STYLE>

Putting this all together, add this code above your <TABLE>:

<H2 class="scrHead">Monthly Sales Forecast</H2>
<H2 class="prnHead">Monthly Sales Forecast Data</H2>

. . .and I would add this above my graph:

<H2 class="prnHead">Monthly Sales Forecast Graph</H2>

The "scrHead" class name prohibits "Monthly Sales Forecast" from displaying on the printed output, and the "prnHead" class name prohibits "Monthly Sales Forecast Data" and "Monthly Sales Forecast Graph" from displaying on the screen. Surround the graph data and header with a <P CLASS="newPage"> tag, and a page break will be inserted just before the <P> tag in the printed copy. In order to make this demo work, you need to add the xmlns:v=" urn:schemas-microsoft-com:vml" namespace to your HTML tag for the VML graph.

Controlling your printed output adds a strong tool to the Web developer's tool set. Taking this into account, it's possible to collect data from a data server in XML format. You could then run that XML through an XSL transformation to produce an HTML-based report for viewing and printing. If you were to create an arsenal of styles for printing, you could leverage your printing functionality through a single style sheet.

If you wish to read more on the CSS2 standard, you may find it at the W3C Web site. Or, for more on Internet Explorer's printing options exposed by CSS2, visit the MSDN Web site. http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-CSS2/ http://msdn.microsoft.com/workshop/author/dynstyle/printing.asp

Phillip Perkins is a contractor with Ajilon Consulting. His experience ranges from machine control and client/server to corporate intranet applications. [Builder.com - 19 Nov 02]

 November 18, 2002
Wild-ass TCP tools. More goodness from Dan Kaminsky: he's gone gold on "Paketto Keiretsu 1.0," a suite of TCP hacking tools, including a wild-ass visualizer and Paratrace. Paratrace traces the path between a client and a server, much like "traceroute", but with a major twist: Rather than iterate the TTLs of UDP, ICMP, or even TCP SYN packets, paratrace attaches itself to an existing, stateful- firewall-approved TCP flow, statelessly releasing as many TCP Keepalive messages as the software estimates the remote host is hop-distant. The resultant ICMP Time Exceeded replies are analyzed, with their original hopcount "tattooed" in the IPID field copied into the returned packets by so many helpful routers. Through this process, paratrace can trace a route without modulating a single byte of TCP/Layer 4, and thus delivers fully valid (if occasionally redundant) segments at Layer 4 -- segments generated by another process entirely. Link Discuss [Boing Boing Blog]
 November 16, 2002
Linux Orbit: One IP, Many Domains: An Apache Virtual Hosting HOWTO. "So, you want to set up a Apache server using more than one domain name and only one IP address. No problem!! Well, I say no problem, but it took me a while to figure it out and I'm here to tell you what I learned to save you some time and trouble..." [Linux Today]
 November 14, 2002
The Best of Web Matrix. Web Matrix is a great way to get your feet wet using ASP.NET without shelling out the money for a full copy of Visual Studio .NET. Here are the seven best things about Web Matrix. [Inside SQL Server Magazine - 25 Oct 02]

USE ISA SERVER TO SECURE EXCHANGE. What none of these Exchange 2000 services can do, alas, is replicate the full Outlook experience. For example, remote users can't easily synchronize with a handheld or use Outlook's Journal, Tasks, or Notes features. These shortcomings exist because Outlook is a Messaging API (MAPI)-based client and expects to be able to pass remote procedure call (RPC) traffic directly to the Exchange Server system. Exposing your Windows computers to RPC traffic directly from the Internet, however, is a Really Bad Idea, so administrators who want to offer Outlook to remote users either need to depend on direct dial-up connections or a VPN. VPNs work well but require a certain degree of care and feeding, particularly when you're deploying a VPN solution for many users or using hardware VPN devices that require special client software.

Another solution exists, though, to the dilemma of how best to provide access to remote users: Deploy Microsoft Internet Security and Acceleration (ISA) Server 2000. ISA Server functions both as a firewall for inbound and outbound traffic and as a Web-caching device; its primary value for Exchange lies in its ability to secure traffic at the application level. Ordinary firewalls secure traffic at the network layer: They block or accept specified types of packets from and to selected network addresses but can't look inside those packets. ISA Server, however, is designed expressly to analyze the contents of HTTP, SMTP, and RPC packets to make sure that the packets contain legal requests. And Microsoft and third parties are working to add filtering capability for additional protocols.

To better secure your Exchange 2000 or Exchange Server 5.5 systems, you can use ISA's application-inspection capability in two key ways. The first way is to publish the Exchange RPC ports so that Outlook clients can access them directly. The clients communicate with the ISA server, which forwards all legal RPC packets to the Exchange server. (This process is similar to the function of an Exchange front-end server, except that front-end servers can't proxy MAPI traffic.) If you take this approach, Outlook clients who connect directly to your ISA Server get much the same experience as operating on the LAN--they have full connectivity and access to all Outlook features. Every road warrior I know who has tried this feature has come away wanting it badly.

The second way to leverage ISA Server is to use it to publish OWA. In this mode, you can use ISA Server to proxy OWA traffic with additional Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) protection, which lets the ISA Server decrypt and inspect incoming traffic before reencrypting and retransmitting it. This option provides a welcome degree of additional security.

You can also use ISA Server to perform more exotic tricks. With the right third-party plugins, the server product can filter and archive Exchange Instant Messaging (IM) traffic, scan inbound SMTP mail for viruses, and filter, quarantine, or block specified content. In the future, I expect Microsoft to enhance ISA Server so that it works with the next version of Exchange (code-named Titanium) to provide MAPI-over-HTTP mode and to support Outlook 11's roaming-user enhancements.
[Exchange & Outlook UPDATE - 8 Nov 02]


How can I clear my customized folder settings in Windows XP?
To clear any customized folder settings, perform the following steps:
1. Start a registry editor (e.g., regedit.exe).
2. Navigate to the HKEY_CURRENT_USERSoftwareMicrosoftWindowsShell registry subkey.
3. Delete the Bags and BagMRU subkeys.
4. Navigate to the HKEY_CURRENT_USERSoftwareMicrosoftWindowsShellNoRoam registry subkey.
5. Delete the Bags and BagMRU subkeys.
6. Close the registry editor, then reboot the machine for the changes to take effect.
[Windows XP and 2000 Tips & Tricks UPDATE - 4 Nov 02]

How can I configure the number of customized folders that Windows XP remembers?
XP lets you customize different appearance settings for different folders (e.g., some folders might display details while others display thumbnail images). XP remembers these settings for as many as 400 customized folders and stores this information under the HKEY_CURRENT_USERSoftwareMicrosoftWindowsShellBags registry subkey. However, you can increase or decrease the number of customized folders that XP remembers by performing the following steps:
1. Start a registry editor (e.g., regedit.exe).
2. Navigate to the HKEY_CURRENT_USERSoftwareMicrosoftWindowsShell registry subkey.
3. From the Edit menu, select New, DWORD Value.
4. Enter the name BagMRU Size, then press Enter.
5. Double-click the new value, set it to the number of folders that you want XP to remember, then click OK.
6. Repeat Steps 3 through 5 under the HKEY_CURRENT_USERSoftwareMicrosoftWindowsShellNoRoam registry subkey as well.
7. Close the registry editor, then reboot the system for the change to take effect. [Windows XP and 2000 Tips & Tricks UPDATE - 4 Nov 02]


FILM SCANNERS: HIGH-QUALITY IMAGES AND FRUSTRATING WAITS. Earlier this summer, I contacted several film-scanner makers to see whether I could evaluate their products and determine whether the technology is a viable solution for consumers who have mountains of legacy (i.e., film-based) photographs. After 2 months of silence, only one manufacturer contacted me, so my impressions are based on my experience with only one such product. Regardless, I think film-scanner technology is worth watching.

Film scanners are essentially miniature versions of the machines professional photo shops use to scan photo negatives and slides to create digital images that online (and brick-and-mortar) photo stores can print. The advantage of film scanners is that the resulting images are of tremendously high quality. For example, the 2 mega-pixel digital camera I own produces images at 1792 x 1200, which is perfect for 8" x 10" enlargements, but no larger. And although I can scan 4" x 6" or 5" x 7" prints on a flatbed scanner, the resulting images are limited by the low resolution of the source prints. For the best quality, you should start with a negative (or slide).

I tested SmartDisk's SmartScan 3600, which features 3600dpi resolution, the equivalent of 17.2 million pixels, high enough quality for the biggest enlargements you'll ever want. The SmartScan is available for various Windows versions (including Windows XP, which I tested it on), Mac OS 9x, and Mac OS 8x (but not Mac OS X). The product retails for about $500, which is comparable to other consumer-and hobbyist-oriented film scanners. Whether this cost is prohibitively expensive will depend on your needs: Certainly, having a lifetime's worth of negatives converted to digital format would be far more expensive.

Sadly, the SmartScan doesn't integrate with XP's excellent Windows Imaging subsystem and instead requires that you install Adobe Photoshop Elements or Adobe Photoshop. I own PhotoShop Elements 2.0, so I used that version rather than install the bundled copy of PhotoShop Elements 1.0. However, I did install the two Photoshop plugins that SmartDisk supplies; they add scanning support for the film scanner and various color and contrast enhancement capabilities. I'd prefer that SmartScan had native OS support so that I could use XP's excellent "Camera and Scanner Installation Wizard" or another tool instead of Photoshop. That said, the Photoshop plugins worked fine, and I used the scanner to obtain images from negatives I've collected.

The results were somewhat surprising. I obtained massive 5174 x 3445 pixel images by using the default plug-in settings. But these images, stored in Photoshop's native PSD format, are about 50MB each and take a whopping amount of hard disk space. Converting them to compressed JPEG format saves space, however: Ignoring Photoshop's warnings about performance concerns, I converted the images to 4.4MB files by using the default JPEG "Save to Web" settings. The conversion makes a big difference, especially if your goal is to archive images to recordable CD-ROM or DVD.

One problem I had with my old, supposedly protected negatives was particularly vexing: Each of the images I scanned had numerous visible scratches. When I scanned some newer negatives (the ones that were relatively unprotected in cardboard sleeves), they had the same kind of scratches, making me wonder whether such scratches are an inherent problem with negatives. Also, regardless of the negative, I had to manually enhance each resulting image's color and contrast after the fact (which is admittedly easy in Photoshop Elements), but I wish a more automated approach existed. Indeed, the process of initializing the scanner--select File, Import, then select Cyberview 35 v 1.73 from within Photoshop--is so nonintuitive that it's almost nonsensical, especially in a product aimed at consumers and computer hobbyists. We're not all graphics professionals. I can already tell that I'll forget this procedure 3 months from now unless I use the scanner regularly.

As far as the hardware goes, the SmartDisk device is a large bricklike device with both FireWire and USB connections. I tested the FireWire version for speed but was still disappointed with the amount of time it takes to scan a strip of negatives. In fact, the lack of speed is the biggest problem with this technology, according to the folks I recently spoke with at a local camera store, so it's not a problem unique to the SmartScan device. You can elect to scan single images or an entire strip, and SmartDisk includes a couple of plastic frames so that you can cut out individual images, when needed, and place them in the front-mounted slot typically used for slides. (I didn't test the unit's ability to scan slides because I don't have any readily available slides.)

I had hoped that the current generation of film scanners would eliminate one of my long-lasting digital-media-related dilemmas--I have thousands of photographs that I want to convert to digital images. The problem is that professional conversion is too expensive, and now I've found that converting the photographs manually with a film scanner is so slow it's almost impossible. (OK, maybe I'm exaggerating, but I told my wife recently that if I started scanning my photos today--beginning with photos from 1985 and working forward--I'd complete the conversion just in time for my retirement.)

But this technology is far from useless. The quality and size of the resulting images is tremendous, even though you need to manually correct color and contrast and edit out some scratches. So I've revised my thinking about this technology and will probably spend some time working through my negatives and picking only the pictures I simply have to have in digital format. If film scanning is like other computer-related technologies, it will only get better with time. But what we have today isn't bad, depending on your requirements. [Connected Home EXPRESS - 25 Sep 02]


TIP: SHARING CALENDARS ON THE WEB. A recent spate of standards-compliant electronic calendars is making it easier than ever for people to make, maintain, and share their schedules. Mozilla Calendar (Windows and Linux, soon on Mac OS X too): One of the coolest things about the open-source Mozilla Web browser suite is that it's extensible, and people are working on add-ons that build on the Mozilla platform. One of the most useful, Mozilla Calendar, will be rolled into the wider Mozilla suite at a later date, but it's available today in beta form and works well (it's free and always will be). Mozilla Calendar, like iCal, supports Web calendaring standards, so you can also use this product to publish and subscribe to Web calendars. And that means that Mozilla Calendar is interoperable with iCal (and you can use the library of calendars that Apple supplies for iCal). The Mozilla Calendar folks also supply a set of holiday files for various nationalities. [Connected Home EXPRESS - 18 Sep 02]
WINDOWS VIDEO EDITING PULLS AHEAD OF THE MAC, PART 1. Greetings,<br>For the past few years, I've confidently recommended Windows-based systems to all kinds of users for every conceivable computing task with just one caveat: Apple Computer's Macintosh systems were always better than Windows for digital-video editing. And because Apple set its sights on the so-called "digital hub," with digital media and home-networking applications receiving special attention, I believed that the Mac--especially the DVD-burning iMac that debuted early this year--was a good choice for anyone who wants to work with digital video, audio, or photos.<br>Now I'm not so sure. With Microsoft's recent digital-media-related releases such as the Windows Media 9 Series and Windows Movie Maker 2, Windows XP has finally pulled well ahead of the Mac in digital-video capabilities and has always been the superior system for digital photos and music. And an inexpensive third-party release I'll discuss in the next issue of Connected Home EXPRESS brings elegant, beautiful DVD movie-making capabilities to XP as well. Is Apple's advantage ending? Let's look at the applications and technologies that are bringing XP to the forefront of the digital-video revolution.<br>Windows Media 9 Series<br>Now in the almost-final release candidate stage, Windows Media 9 Series includes a new version of Windows Media Player (WMP)--WMP 9--and new audio and video codecs, or formats, called Windows Media Audio (WMA) 9 and Windows Media Video (WMV) 9. I've reviewed the Windows Media 9 Series on the SuperSite for Windows (see the first URL below), and although Microsoft's latest player is the best yet, the codecs make this technology notable. Thanks to new compression capabilities, you can now rip CD audio and create home movies that take up far less space than is possible on a Mac. For example, you can store 1 to 1.5 hours of full-resolution (720 x 480) WMV 9 video in just a gigabyte of hard disk space. With the Mac, you can store only 6 minutes of full-resolution digital video per gigabyte. And WMV 9's quality is as good or better than what you see on the Mac. WMV 9 lets you create video libraries on your hard disk the same way you create libraries of digital photos and audio. You can't do so on the Mac because its underlying video technology doesn't offer low bit-rate, high-quality encoding at native resolutions. The Release Candidate 1<br>(RC1) build of WMP 9, which includes the WMA 9 and WMV 9 codecs, is available for download from the Microsoft Web site (see the second URL below).<br>Windows Movie Maker 2<br>High-quality video codecs with good compression are nice, but to take advantage of WMV 9 you need a video-editing package. XP's bundled Windows Movie Maker application has always been the butt of jokes, although I've often defended the product for its simple video-capture interface. But the new Windows Movie Maker 2 not only surpasses the Apple iMovie and PC-based competition but takes video-editing state-of-the-art to a new level.<br>Now available as a public beta release (see the third URL below), Windows Movie Maker 2 is visually similar to its predecessor but is far more powerful. The application is divided into four areas. A new Movie Tasks pane features simple task-based links for capturing video, editing your movies, and finishing (or saving) your movies; it also includes various movie-making tips. The old Collections pane is still available as a toggle; it makes the Movie Tasks pane appear and disappear. You use the Collections pane to organize your movie library from the video you capture from a Digital Video (DV) camera and other sources. The Collections view--which displays the video and audio clips, bitmaps, and other resources that make up the selected collection--is in the center of the application window. The newly resizable preview window is on the right. And the familiar Timeline/Storyboard pane, which also has a lot of new features, is on the bottom.<br>Windows Movie Maker 2's goal is to let you easily capture, edit, and create movies. Microsoft has found that consumers have good intentions when it comes to home video, but the reality is that editing video is difficult and overly time-consuming (and this has been my experience as well). For average users (i.e., most people), Windows Movie Maker 2 will automate literally every step of the video-editing process. More advanced users can tweak those results or simply choose to manually slog through the entire process. Windows Movie Maker 2 is one of those rare applications that works equally well for experts and newcomers.<br>Let's walk through a typical Windows Movie Maker 2 movie-creation process. First, you need to capture your raw video footage, typically from a camcorder. Unlike iMovie, Windows Movie Maker 2 supports analog and digital video, so any video (or audio) source you can connect to your PC is automatically supported. Windows Movie Maker 2 includes a new Capture from the Video Device wizard that completely automates this process, and you can also import video, pictures, audio, or music from your hard disk.<br>After you import the video, Windows Movie Maker 2 splits it into clips and creates a collection, as before. But now your options are exponentially expanded. Windows Movie Maker 2 includes more than 130 new professional-looking, high-quality effects, titles, and transitions (compared with just one in Windows Movie Maker 1 and about 27 in iMovie). Instead of looking at the manual process, let's look at Windows Movie Maker 2's exciting new AutoMovie feature, which uses Microsoft Research technology to analyze your video clips and create a professionally edited movie that includes the best parts of each scene you selected. It sounds impossible, but AutoMovie does an amazing job, effectively eliminating the time and effort barriers to video editing. AutoMovie supports various movie types--Flip and Slide, with cool video transitions; Highlights Movie, for the traditionalist; Music Video, for a movie that syncs edits to beats of the underlying song, which you get to select; Old Movie, which uses film age and sepia-tone effects; and Sports Highlights, which uses quick editing techniques and zooms, so you'll probably be happy with the results. I've been making music-video versions of my home movies all week, and the effect is simply stunning.<br>There's more--much more. I haven't gotten to the DVD-recording part of the story yet, but I'm out of space. Next week, I'll wrap up this overview of Windows Movie Maker 2; in the meantime, XP users should give this download a try. It's an amazing, change-your-life product if you're interested in working with digital video.<br>"Windows Media 9 Series reviewed"<br>http://www.winsupersite.com/reviews/wm9series.asp<;br>WMP 9 RC1 download<br>http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/9series/player.asp<;br>Windows Movie Maker 2 beta download<br>http [Connected Home EXPRESS - 13 Nov 02] [Eric's incoming newsletters]
 November 13, 2002
I've been on the look out for a Windows tab-capable browser, since I tend to have a dozen browser windows open at a time -- making it very hard to find anything. Tried Mozilla. It crashed. I resumed my search and found this browser list. After trying several programs, I'm very happy and impressed with CrazyBrowser. Allows keeping groups of links and locking tabs into place. Wrangle those URLs! It's freeware, with no annoying ad- or spyware.
 November 12, 2002
Classic Computer Magazine Archive [Slashdot] "I think /. readers will find this of interest: the Classic Computer Magazine Archive serves up the full text from old compter mags: three years of Creative Computing plus every issue of Antic, STart, and Hi-Res. There's also a bit of text from Compute! and Compute!'s Gazette. Everything is there with permission from the publishers."
Have Fujitsu Harddrives Been Failing in Record Numbers? [Slashdot] If your hard drive has started to show garbled characters in the BIOS at boot, or just does not pick up. You may be victim to what could be the biggest hard drive manufacturer failure rate yet! Our company is small OEM system builder and we have been hit by a failure rate of %90 of the hard drives we purchased a year ago. We might be lucky because we stopped buying after rumors of hard drive issues 3 months after Fujitsu Limited made some major changes. IBM had a pretty crazy rate of failure and was telling people to turn off smart mode. I've called Fujitsu and they said that there is no problem! However, a simple search for bad fujitsu hard drives on any search engine will point to some angry folks. One notable link is this Register story." Has this problem followed Fujitsu drives into other countries, or might they be limited to the UK markets? Have you noticed an unusual failure rate in Fujitsu drives compared to hard drives from other manufacturers?
 November 11, 2002
Folding@Home Client's Performance Impact Measured [Slashdot] Trying to convince your boss to let you run Stanford's Folding@Home client on the machines at work? Here's an article that measures the performance impact of running the Folding@Home client that might help. The article examines the client's impact on the performance of business applications, games, workstation applications, and more. When set up correctly, the Folding@Home client can be run transparently in the background with only a negligible impact on system performance, which means your boss has one less reason to turn you down.
 November 10, 2002
Lightest of the Light Linux [Slashdot] This looks kind of interesting for those who want to run a feather weight Linux on really old hardware.
 November 08, 2002
ThinkPad
  • New: Intel PRO/100 SP mobile combo adapter
    11S06P3819ZJ17460Y p/n 063P3819 fru 06P3809 a 30469-007 (rev-8)
    10-3073-010116 78N70099XP59PY
    MAC address 0003478E45D3
  • Old: modem IBM p/n 08K3251
    EC NO:H00321 FRU p/n: 08K3252 year month: 006
    11S08K3251Z1UV095676
  • New: IBM AC Adapter
    p/n 02K66657
    11SO2K6657Z1ZAO511KY
  • IBM Port Replicator p/n 02K8668
    fru p/n 08N1536
    s/n 153717046
 November 7, 2002
Yahoo has published an article on a Linksys vulnerability. The vulnerability is fixed in the latest firmware release. Upgrade 'em if ya got 'em!

Linksys BEFSR41 vulnerability

An easily exploitable software vulnerability in a common home networking router by Linksys Group could expose thousands of home users to denial of service attacks, according to a security advisory issued by iDefense, a software security company. Linksys, based in Irvine, California, could not immediately be reached for comment.

The vulnerability affects Linksys BEFSR41 EtherFast Cable/DSL routers using router firmware earlier than version 1.42.7.

A security hole in some versions of the firmware used by the router could allow a remote user to crash the device, interrupting Internet service for any computers attached to it, according to iDefense. To cause a crash, an attacker only needs to enter the URL (uniform resource locator) for a CGI (Common Gateway Interface) script used to configure and manage the router without providing any "arguments" (input for the script to process), according to iDefense. In most situations, the attacker would already need to be on a computer connected to the network to execute an attack. However, if the router has a 'remote management' feature enabled, a malicious hacker could execute an attack from anywhere on the Internet by entering the IP (Internet Protocol) address of the router along with the name of the script into his or her Web browser. "An attacker could just scan a (network) subnet for IP addresses belonging to Linksys routers. Once they identified the targeted routers, they could bring them down just using their Web browser," said Sunil James, a senior security engineer at iDefense, which is in Chantilly, Virginia.

Other Linksys models including the BEFSR11 and BEFSRU31 routers may also be affected by the vulnerability, according to James. Those models use the same embedded Web server and firmware software as the BEFSR41, James said. IDefense has not tested the vulnerability on the BEFSR11 or BEFSRU31 router hardware, James said. Aside from losing Internet connectivity, however, James said that iDefense does not believe the vulnerability would allow attackers to place or execute malicious code on an affected network. Following an attack, users would need to reset the router by pressing a reset button on the back of the device to restore it, according to iDefense.

To guard against this vulnerability, iDefense recommends upgrading the router firmware to version 1.42.7 or later (http://www.linksys.com/download/firmware.asp). That and subsequent firmware versions appear to eliminate the vulnerability, though Linksys makes no mention of the vulnerability in the release notes that accompany the updated firmware, according to James. Users are also asked to verify that the router's remote management feature is not enabled.

 November 5, 2002

Fujitsu admits 4.9m (potentially) defective HDDs
Failure rate "exceeds all reasonable industry standards".

Posted: 05/11/2002 at 09:16 GMT

COURT PAPERS CONFIRM: FUJITSU SUSPECTED 4.9 MILLION DEFECTIVE DRIVES 18 MONTHS AGO

The papers lodged with the court in California, in the $50 million action between Cirrus Logic and Fujitsu (of Japan), confirm what observers had already guessed, that – contrary to the blasé denials of any notable problems - there is indeed an officially acknowledged problem with the MPG3xxx series of drives. And Fujitsu knew the massive scale and scope of the problem at least 18 months ago.

Cirrus Logic’s case against Fujitsu for breach of contract was filed on 19th October 2001 – over a year ago, as was Fujitsu’s counterclaim for breach of contract & breach of warranty. Fujitsu’s documents make it clear that it knew Cirrus Logic had supplied defective chips as long ago as July 2001, saying that it started to receive complaints about failures from May 2001. It promptly informed Cirrus Logic and requested information regarding the nature and extent of the problem and proposed remedies, but says that this information was not forthcoming.

The blame is being laid at the door of the supplier of the epoxy mould compound used in the manufacture of Cirrus' Himalaya 2.0 and Numbur chips. It is claimed that in the summer of 2000 the supplier of the epoxy, a Cirrus Logic sub-contractor - made the first of several changes to its product, and it was this that ultimately caused the chips to fail by short-circuiting. Fujitsu claims that Cirrus Logic should have known of these changes – which it says were "significant" – and that it should have warned Fujitsu.

At time of lodging the court papers Fujitsu estimated that approximately 4 million of the approximately twelve million Himalaya 2.0 chips it bought, and all of the approximately 900,000 Numbur chips are defective; that these defects have already caused a substantial number of these chips – and thereby the drives in which they are used - to fail; that the time before failure is variable and unpredictable, and that it is "highly likely" that a significant number of additional chips will short and cause the drives to fail. Based on field data, Fujitsu determined that the failure rate of the chips (and thereby, we suggest, the failure rate of their own drives) is "in excess of all reasonable industry standards".

Fujitsu says that Cirrus refused to deal fairly with it because it failed to take prompt and thorough action and didn’t provide it with full information, thereby harming Fujitsu’s customer relationships –a critical Fujitsu asset. This claim will no doubt bring an outraged response from Fujitsu’s trade customers and end-users, who have been trying to get an open response from the company for many months. Fujitsu's stance has been either an outright denial of any problem (stand up, Fujitsu Germany, Fujitsu Canada & Fujitsu in Australia) or a grudging statement that "some customers have reported problems".

That Fujitsu has consistently failed to take prompt and thorough action to remedy the problems being suffered by its customers, and indeed has denied any such problem, when there have been documents in the public domain (albeit well hidden in court filings) admitting the problem, is a shameful reflection upon the company and its claimed care for its customers.

By Fujitsu’s own statement potentially 4.9 million of their drives will fail outwith normal life expectation. This admission could provide valuable ammunition in world-wide legal actions against the company.

© PC Association 2002. This article is copyright PC Association 2002,
but may be freely used, quoted & distributed provided attribution is made

 November 4, 2002
Windows XP SP1 Bomb: Network File Errors Occur After You Install Windows XP SP1
We've got a lot of letters on this problem. Windows XP SP1 users can't copy documents from another computer, documents are opened as "read only" for no apparent reason, and messages regarding the file or network path no longer exists. What the heck is going on here? Everything seems to work fine with network files before SP1. The problem has to do with SMB signing. Windows 2000 and Windows XP SP1 assign SMB packets in different ways and this can create compatibility issues. If network connections on Windows XP SP1 computers are driving you nuts, then you must check out this article for the fix:
http://www.winxpnews.com/rd/rd.cfm?id=021029CO-SP1_Network

Slow SMB Performance When You Copy Files from Windows XP to a Windows 2000 Domain Controller
We can't blame Windows XP SP1 for everything, because there were already problems with copying files to and from Windows 2000 Domain controllers. I've noticed this problem at multiple locations and it was a real pain in the neck and a mystery. If you carried out the procedures in this article, you'll get decent file copy performance again:
http://www.winxpnews.com/rd/rd.cfm?id=021029CO-Copying_Files

 October 31, 2002
Track Changes to an XML Document You could write custom code to track changes made within an XML document, but why? Using .NET's built-in support for DOM events gives you a better alternative. [XML & Web Services Insight]
Use Word to Create a Cover Letter and Resume in One File
Use Microsoft Word 97 or Word 2000 to package your cover letter and resume together in one easy-to-print document. This Office Assistance Center article shows you how.
Create a Template-Based Web Site
Use XML and XSLT to create Web sites that deliver dynamic Web content to your users. XML templates can customize your content for each user. [Web Design & Development Insight]
 October 30, 2002

Solving Xp Sp1 Network File Errors

In response to last week's article about the ever-morphing redirector components, reader Phil Rupp wrote to tell me that Windows XP Service Pack 1 (SP1) clients on his network experience consistent problems accessing files stored on a Windows 2000 server. He wonders whether the two redirector components might be the problem.

Rupp first noticed the problem after upgrading XP systems to SP1. After the upgrade, XP clients encountered a variety of error messages when trying to access remote files. Messages include slow performance messages, notification that files are corrupt or already open by another user, or messages that state the file is no longer available. Rupp noted that clients encounter these errors in a variety of applications, but only when accessing files hosted on a Win2K system.

According to Microsoft, the connectivity problems aren't related to multiple versions of the redirector code but do involve the Server Message Block (SMB) protocol. The Microsoft article "'File or Network Path No Longer Exists' or 'No Network Provider Accepted the Given Network Path' Error Message When You Copy or Open Files in Windows XP SP1" states that the client errors are the result of a bug in how the Win2K system hosting the shared resource processes signed SMB packets from an XP SP1 client. The protocol bug produces many error messages in a variety of circumstances. Clients might also experience delays accessing a remote file, and in some cases, hang and need to be restarted.

Find out more about these connectivity problems and how to solve them.  

Here are some of the symptoms XP SP1 clients exhibit when SMB signing is causing problems:

  • When you copy a file from a network share to the client, the copy fails 50 percent of the time.
  • Programs that open and close files or create temporary files on a Win2K-based server might be slow to respond, produce several different error messages, or hang.
  • Programs that generate heavy network file traffic experience delays or very slow response when opening or closing files.
  • Clients see error messages when a logon script runs or when the system applies Group Policy.

To correct this problem, call Microsoft Product Support Services (PSS), quote reference article Q329170, and ask for the fix that addresses the problem. The patch corrects SMB processing errors in eight OS components, including localspl.dll, printui.dll, spoolss.dll, spuninst.exe, srv.sys, srvsvc.dll, winspool.drv, and wlnotify.dll. The files have a release date of October 10. You must install this patch on all WinK servers that host remote shares for XP SP1 clients.

To temporarily work around the problem, you can disable SMB signing on servers that host resources for XP SP1 clients. To do so, you need to modify the Default Domain Controllers policy, a built-in policy that applies to all DCs. Open the Microsoft Management Console (MMC) Active Directory Users and Computers snap-in. Right-click the Domain Controllers organizational unit (OU), and click Properties. Click the Group Policies tab, select the Default Domain Controllers Policy, then click Edit. Expand the keys and navigate to Computer ConfigurationWindows SettingsSecurity SettingsLocal PoliciesSecurity Options. Here, you will find four of Win2K’s SMB signing options, including

  • Digitally sign client communication (always)
  • Digitally sign client communication (when possible)
  • Digitally sign server communication (always)
  • Digitally sign server communication (when possible)

A default DC installation enables the last option, "Digitally sign server communication (when possible)." You turn off SMB signing on a DC by disabling this feature. If the last option isn't enabled, check the settings for the other three options and disable every enabled SMB option. At this point, you can wait 5 minutes for the automatic Group Policy refresh cycle, or you can manually refresh the policy on each DC with the command secedit/refreshpolicy machine_policy/enforce.

[Windows & .NET Magazine UPDATE 29 Oct 02]


Sneak Attack Through A License Agreement

Have you ever received a Web-based greeting card from a friend or relative? They're common these days, and they seem to be taken for granted, in that people trust the intent of someone who might send them a greeting card. People like to be greeted with kindness, so they're inclined to look at and read the greeting card. It's one of the feel-good things that many people simply can't resist.

Have you ever wondered why a company would spend its Internet resources delivering free greeting cards on behalf of people with whom it conducts no business otherwise? How does such an entity profit from those endeavors? What might its motives be?

Last week, a user posted an interesting message to our HowTo for Security mailing list regarding one company that delivers Web-based greeting cards. That company, Permissioned Media, runs a Web site called FriendGreetings.com, which lets one person send another person an electronic greeting card.

The friendly facilitation seems simple and harmless, but it has a rather insidious side.

When you receive a greeting from FriendGreetings.com, the message says that someone sent you the greeting and that to read it, you must click a URL that takes you to the Web site hosting the greeting. When you click the URL, you're prompted to install an ActiveX control before you view the greeting. As the greeting-card recipient, you would probably assume that you must install the ActiveX control to view the greeting; however, that's not the case.

Instead, FriendGreetings.com has designed the ActiveX control, complete with an End User License Agreement (EULA), to interact with your mail client software and harvest information about your email contacts. After the ActiveX control obtains your private contact list information, it sends a similar greeting card to everyone in your contact list, probably unbeknownst to you!

If you took time to read the EULA from FriendGreetings.com, you'd discover that the EULA clearly states Permissioned Media's intention to do just that.

A section of the EULA reads, "As part of the installation process, Permissioned Media will access your Microsoft Outlook contacts list and send an e-mail to persons on your contacts list inviting them to download FriendGreetings or related products." By accepting the EULA and installing the ActiveX control, you give the company permission to perform that activity.

In essence, the greeting cards that FriendGreetings.com delivers resemble many worms that travel the Internet: They're parasitic, intrusive, devious, elusive, and most of all, probably unwanted. Even some antivirus vendors issued warnings about the greeting card last week.

However, we can't completely blame FriendGreetings.com for its use because, although the company counts on most users' acceptance of the unread EULA, the EULA does spell out some of its intention. By agreeing to the EULA, users agree to the ActiveX control activity.

Nevertheless, the lesson here should be obvious: When you encounter a EULA, don't take anything for granted. Read it word for word to understand exactly what you're accepting and think through what the consequences of acceptance might be.

Permissioned Media bills itself as a "behavioral marketing network" with more than 100 clients that advertise online. The company also operates Cool-Downloads.com. You can read Permissioned Media's EULA at the URL below. Take note that it grants the company "the right to add additional features or functions to the version of PerMedia you install, or to add new applications to PerMedia, at any time." Yikes! If you've received a greeting card from FriendGreetings.com and installed the associated ActiveX control, you might want to remove its software from your system. To find out how, be sure to read the related news article, "Protect Your Contact List: Read the EULA!" in this newsletter. 

And if you're a security administrator for your network, consider blocking FriendGreetings.com to help ensure that none of your network users inadvertently compromise private contact information by accepting a greeting card from that Web site. [Security UPDATE 30 Oct 02]


What's going on under your system's hood?. Is your computer a little sluggish these days? Wonder if it's time for an upgrade? Jason Parker has three downloads that tell you how much RAM you're using, which programs are running, and more. [ZDNet Tech Update Weekly 18 Oct 02]

>> Cool Beans System Info puts a small window on your desktop containing colorful bars that represent the amount of memory various processes are using. Double-click on the window, and you get a more detailed overview, which shows your processor type and speed as well as the features you have running on your system. (Free/Windows)

 October 29, 2002
Jon Udell: "The Xopus demo is, indeed, an eye-opener." [Scripting News] The Xopus demo is, indeed, an eye-opener. Runs in the browser, without plug-in support, toggling between WSYIWYG and XML modes, enforces schema, has multilingual support both in the UI and the document. Includes a competent table editor. The developers of this open-source project have even built a prototype of the MSIE ContentEditable feature for Mozilla, in advance of official support in Mozilla for that feature. Impressive!
 October 28, 2002
How can I view and clear my DNS cache content?. A. When a Windows XP or Windows 2000 machine queries a DNS server, the response is either positive (a match was found) or negative (no match was found). The OS stores these results in a local DNS cache so that local clients don't repeatedly query the DNS server for the same address. These DNS cache entries are known as DNS Resource Records (RR), and the DNS resolver always checks the local cache before it queries the DNS server. To view the current DNS resolver cache content and the entries preloaded from the Hosts file, go to the command prompt and type C:> ipconfig /displaydns Each entry shows the remaining Time to Live (TTL) in seconds. To clear the cache, go to the command prompt and type C:> ipconfig /flushdns Flushing the DNS cache clears all entries and reloads the entries from the Hosts file. [Windows XP and 2000 Tips & Tricks UPDATE 28 Oct 02] [Eric's incoming newsletters]
How can I configure the amount of time the DNS cache stores positive. and negative responses? A. By default, Windows stores positive responses in the DNS cache for 86,400 seconds (i.e., 24 hours) and stores negative responses for 300 seconds (i.e., 5 minutes). To modify these values, perform the following steps: 1. Start a registry editor (e.g., regedit.exe). 2. Navigate to the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESYSTEMCurrentControlSetServicesDnscacheParameters registry subkey. 3. From the Edit menu, select New, DWORD Value. 4. Enter the name MaxCacheEntryTtlLimit to change the positive cache period or the name NegativeCacheTime to change the negative cache period, then press Enter. 5. Double-click the new value, set it to the desired number of seconds (e.g., if you entered the name NegativeCacheTime, you could set the value to 0 to stop Windows from caching any negative responses), then click OK. 6. Repeat Step 5 for the other value, if required. 7. Close the registry editor. 8. Reboot the computer for the changes to take effect. [Windows XP and 2000 Tips & Tricks UPDATE 28 Oct 02]
How can I ensure that the DNS resolver uses only results from. queried DNS servers? A. By default, if a client requests name resolution, the client will accept any response with the correct query ID, regardless of where the response is from. This behavior could lead to security problems if a rogue process that deliberately returns incorrect information exists on a system. To force the DNS resolver to match the source IP address of the response with the DNS servers that the DNS resolver queried, perform the following steps: 1. Start a registry editor (e.g., regedit.exe) on each client machine. 2. Navigate to the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESYSTEMCurrentControlSetServicesDnscacheParameters registry subkey. 3. From the Edit menu, select New, DWORD Value. 4. Enter the name QueryIpMatching, then press Enter. 5. Double-click the new value, set it to 1, then click OK. 6. Close the registry editor. 7. Reboot the machine for the change to take effect. [Windows XP and 2000 Tips & Tricks UPDATE 28 Oct 02]
 October 27, 2002

Top 10 XP Registry Hacks

Melissa Wise
InstantDoc #24546
May 2002

Customize your new OS to make it faster and more secure

After working with Windows XP for several months, I've discovered some handy registry modifications that have improved my XP experience. In a few cases, a registry hack has saved my sanity. As always, be sure to back up your registry before you make any changes, and use care when implementing modifications. One wrong move can render your computer inoperable. If a stated value isn't present in your registry in the indicated location, you'll need to create the value to implement the desired change. All values are of type REG_DWORD, unless noted otherwise.

  1. Enable XP's Registry Favorites option. This little trick will simplify your work in the registry. You can bookmark locations within the regedit utility so that you don't need to repeatedly navigate to a desired subkey. To set a regedit Favorite, run regedit, navigate to the desired key (e.g., HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE/SOFTWARE/ Microsoft/Windows), and highlight the subkey (e.g., CurrentVersion) that you want to bookmark. Click Favorites, select Add to Favorites, name the subkey, and click OK. I recommend that you use a naming scheme that helps you identify a key's location, such as "HKLM...CurrentVersion" or "HKLM/S/MS/Win/CV."
     
  2. Run programs in a separate memory space. I like to run some older DOS applications in a separate memory space. To add a Run in Separate Memory Space check box to the Run dialog box, navigate to the HKEY_CURRENT_USER/Software/ Microsoft/Windows/ CurrentVersion/Policies/Explorer subkey and set the MemCheckBoxInRunDlg value to 1.
     
  3. Clear the pagefile at shutdown. This modification helps keep your data secure. Navigate to the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE/SYSTEM/CurrentControlSet/Control/Session Manager/Memory Management subkey and set the ClearPageFileAtShutdown value to 1.
     
  4. Prevent users from changing the paths of user folders. Navigate to the HKEY_ CURRENT_USER/Software/Microsoft/Windows/ CurrentVersion/Policies/Explorer subkey. To lock the paths to My Pictures, My Music, Favorites, and My Documents, respectively, set the following four values to 0: DisableMyPicturesDirChange, DisableMyMusicDirChange, DisableFavoritesDirChange, and DisablePersonalDirChange.
     
  5. Clean up the Start menu. Navigate to the HKEY_CURRENT_USER/Software/Microsoft/Windows/ CurrentVersion/Policies/Explorer subkey. To disable all user-specific folders except My Documents, set the NoStartMenuMyMusic, NoSMMyPictures, NoFavoritesMenu, and NoRecentDocsMenu values to 0. If you also want to disable MyDocuments, set the NoSMMyDocs value to 0.
     
  6. Show the Map Network Drive button. Navigate to the HKEY_CURRENT_USER/Software/Microsoft/Windows/ CurrentVersion/Explorer/Advanced subkey and set the MapNetDrvBtn value to 1. The Map Network Drive button will appear on your Windows Explorer and My Computer toolbars.
     
  7. Don't hide files. Several values within the HKEY_CURRENT_USER/Software/Microsoft/Windows/ CurrentVersion/Explorer/Advanced subkey affect hidden files and folders. To show hidden files and folders, set the Hidden value to 1. To show file extensions, set the HideFileExt value to 0. To show protected OS files, set the ShowSuperHidden value to 1.
     
  8. Dispense with balloon pop-ups. Navigate to the HKEY_CURRENT_USER/Software/Microsoft/Windows/ CurrentVersion/Explorer/Advanced subkey and set the EnableBalloonTips hexadecimal value to 0.
     
  9. Get rid of Windows Messenger at startup. Navigate to the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE/SOFTWARE/Microsoft/Windows/ CurrentVersion/Run subkey and delete the MSMSGS value.
     
  10. Improve XP's response time. To reduce delays in specific situations, navigate to the HKEY_CURRENT_USER/Control Panel/Desktop subkey. To set a lower threshold at which the system prompts you to manually end a hung task, change the HungAppTimeout value, of type REG_SZ, from the default 5000 to 1000. Be careful when you adjust this setting: If you use a program that runs slowly on XP, the OS might falsely determine that it has hung. In such a case, you can increase the HungAppTimeout value by increments of 1000 until the false "hung" detections stop.

    To accelerate the display of your submenus on the Start menu, set the MenuShowDelay value (of type REG_SZ) from the default 400 to 50. Setting this value too low (e.g., to 0) causes your cursor to bring up menus too quickly and hinder your path to the Start menu option that you want. If you set the value to 50, you can move your cursor over menu options without accessing pop-up menus that obscure your target.

    Like Windows 2000, XP suffers from a little-documented browse delay. When you browse to a Windows 9x computer name (\\computername), your XP computer checks for Scheduled Tasks on computers to which it's connecting. This search can cause as much as a 30-second delay. If you browse to the share name (\\computername\share), this delay won't occur. To eliminate the search for Scheduled Tasks and increase your browse speed, delete the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE/SOFTWARE/Microsoft/Windows/ CurrentVersion/Explorer/RemoteComputer/NameSpace/{D6277990-4C6A-11CF-8D87-00AA0060F5BF} subkey, which is of type REG_SZ.
     

http://www.winnetmag.com/articles/index.cfm?articleid=24546
Copyright © 2002 Penton Media, Inc., All rights reserved.


Command-Shell Scripting Lives On. They're not flashy, but command-shell scripts often do the trick--and for that reason, Microsoft can't leave them behind. --Michael Otey NEED TO KNOW [Inside Windows & .NET Magazine 21 Oct 02] [Eric's incoming newsletters]
 October 26, 2002
Eric Hartwell says: I guess that workedAllan says: i unpluged the modem and then the router, and waited a minute then tuirned on the modem and router.. and now it works
next time maybe we can work out that bug so i wont ahve to do it every day
Eric Hartwell says: It shouldn't happen. Next time try just powering off the modem then back onAllan says: ok, thanks a lot, i know its frustrating for you espically over theEric Hartwell says: Please send an email to let me know every time it happens and what you did to get it working .. at least for this week
I'm still going to replace the router, wire the phone line properly, and add a surge protector or ups.
Usually the network connection should stay up for weeks at a time
But you never really tested that since it was set to sign on every time the PC powered up.
Anyway, let's see.
bye
Allan says: alrihgt thanks a bunch ill email you. bye
 October 25, 2002
FREE: Hard-link Creator for Windows Visit Site Download Now (540 Kb)
UNIX fans have been familiar with hard-links for quite some time. A hard-link makes it appear as though a file is located in more than one place at a time, when in reality, only one copy exists. This is different than shortcuts which point back to the original location. Hard-links can be access directly by any of your software programs, and they think they are accessing the file in the directory where the hard-link is setup. This capability has been in Windows NT and later, but Microsoft has not provided any means for end users to configure them. This utility integrates itself into the context menus for right-clicking and right-dragging in Explorer.
Microsoft XSD Inference Tool Creates Schemas from XML Instances. Dare Obasanjo announced the availability of a Microsoft XSD Inference utility. The Beta 1 XSD Inference Tool is used to create an XML Schema definition language (XSD) schema from an XML instance document. When provided with well-formed XML file, the utility generates an XSD that can be used to validate that XML file; one can refine the XSD generated by providing additional well-formed XML files. An online version and binaries are available. [The XML Cover Pages]
 October 24, 2002
Why I dumped Norton Antivirus for McAfee VirusScan. Like the people in Apple's "switch" ads, Robert Vamosi recently changed his software allegiance. But instead of switching operating systems, he switched antivirus software. [ZDNet's Tech Update]
 October 23, 2002

X marks the method

By Mark Gibbs

If you haven't yet checked out the XMethods Web site and you are trying to develop Web services get yourself over there pronto. At the XMethods site you'll find tutorials, demos, code and lots of links to related resources.

I particularly like the implementations page which lists links for packages and implementations and their publishers.

The other terrifically useful section is Tutorials, a list of user contributed tutorials on how to install and use a variety of implementations. The fact that the tutorials are user contributed makes them very practical guides to dealing with the sometime eccentric details of leading edge products.

XMethods also publishes a number of programmatic interfaces including:

You can also register on the XMethods site, which allows you to post messages on the message boards, register clients to use XMethods services and publish services for others to use (and for that matter, test for you).

XMethods was founded in 2000 by two guys in San Jose - Tony and James Hong. They are to be congratulated for an extremely useful site. [Network World]


Get Windows Messenger To Work With Firewalls And Nat. Windows Messenger can connect your users in exciting new ways. But it's a challenge when firewalls and NAT are involved. Greg Shultz discusses why firewalls and NAT cause connection problems and shows you ways UPnP can help. Also, check out the recent discussion posts to this article! [TechRepublic newsletters]

Tip for Using the Same Computer at Home and Work

Many users use the same laptop at home and at work. There are challenges to making this work because you have to use different accounts to access the home network and the corporate network domain. Donald Nientker shares a solution that works for him:

"After I had to reinstall XP, I accidentally found out the following 'trick': Set the computer up for 'on the road' and for use on the network. Then, while being connected to the network, log on using the 'on the road' logon. In the Windows Explorer you can then click Tools, Map network Drive and enter drive directory (\\server\dir) and the domain. You are asked for Username and Password once and after that, every time I plug the network cable in, I have access to the network without having to switch the user. Following this, I disabled the logon window in Control Panel, User accounts, Change the way users log on or off. Now I don't have to log on, whether on the road or in the office and don't have to worry about different user accounts."

WinXPnews™ E-Zine Oct 22, 2002 (Vol. 2, 42 - Issue 48)

 October 22, 2002

MICROSOFT CANCELS SUBSCRIPTION-SOFTWARE TRIAL

Microsoft recently cancelled a subscription-software trial in Australia, New Zealand, and France that the company had intended to form the foundation of a worldwide rollout in 2003 of subscription-based software and services. Microsoft's End-User Subscription Licensing (ESL) for Office XP program has been a bust with users in the three aforementioned countries. Many users were surprised to discover that their software applications would stop functioning after a year if the subscription wasn't renewed. The pilot program had been in place since May 2001.

Microsoft blames the failure on consumer confusion. Although the company sold 10 million Office XP licenses in Australia, New Zealand, and France, only 10,000 customers signed on for the ESL version of Office XP. "Although Office XP [End-User] Subscription Licence was a popular offering, research showed the subscription model was not well understood by customers participating in the pilot," said Tony Wilkinson, Office product manager for Microsoft Australia, in a press release announcing the completion of the trial. "Customers and computer resellers from across New Zealand, Australia, and France had the opportunity to be the first in the world to assess the subscription licensing model. From their feedback, we learned that customers find subscriptions a useful method of purchasing software but are not ready to fully adopt this process."

That's for sure. Once heralded as the future of software delivery and the white knight that would safeguard Microsoft's future financials, subscription software is now on the ropes. In Australia, New Zealand, and France, potential ESL customers could purchase a 1-year subscription to Office XP, essentially paying the full price of a complete Office version every 3 years if they continually renewed. But even with the low upfront cost, few users were interested in the deal. "The consumer market just isn't ready for subscription-based software yet," Wilkinson said. "The concept of software delivered as a service is new to consumers and right now the target market just didn't understand."

Happily, Microsoft gave customers who did purchase the subscription Office XP version a full perpetual version of the software for free. However, emerging from the flaming ruins of this important software trial, Microsoft now faces a suddenly uncertain future in subscription software.

So what now? Microsoft will ship Office 11 in mid-2003, and a November beta 1 release might offer clues to any plans the company has for subscription software. But even a few years ago, when Microsoft was first investigating subscription-software schemes, the company realized that getting consumers accustomed to such a huge change to the status quo would take a while. "This is a long-term transition," Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said in late 2000. "We're going to be selling [traditional] copies of Microsoft Office for many, many years. This is not a quick transition perhaps, but this is the direction of transformation that we're describing." In other words, Microsoft will be back with a better subscription-software story. The company won't give up this easily. [Windows and .NET Magazine Network]


Physical Security: The Final Frontier

Many people think of computer security as something that involves bits, bytes, and passwords. You might not think much about a more elementary level of security: the physical security and integrity of your Exchange Server systems and your Outlook client workstations. Dismissing physical security as someone else's problem is easy but foolish: If an attacker gets unrestricted physical access to your computer, it won't be "your" computer much longer. Fortunately, you can take simple steps to make your systems more secure.

Begin by taking a good look at your building's physical security. Can just anyone get in? Is there an alarm? How about fire protection? Is the cooling system adequate for the number of machines you have? These questions might seem obvious (even dumb), but answering them will help you take inventory of your site's physical-security posture.

Next, take a look at your Exchange servers. Are the servers in a separate room--as they should be--or do they sit next to or under someone's desk? If the machines are in a separate room, make sure the room has a locking door. Depending on the value of your hardware, a simple lock might not be adequate; a combination or cipher lock might be more useful. Restrict who gets the key, combination, or code. Permit only those whose jobs require access to enter the server room (or server closet).

What about the machines themselves? If you're using a server rack, it probably has a lockable door--use it. If you have standalone servers with locking hasps, lock the server cases to prevent miscreants from tampering with or stealing internal components or even the entire system. Most machines contain some amount of sensitive data, so consider removing or disabling any drives that could be used to write data to removable media, including 3.5" drives. Set BIOS and power-on passwords.

These steps apply to desktop workstations, too. Much of your organization's most valuable data probably exists on these machines (a reason to consider regular backups as an additional security measure). Also encourage users to use the Windows Security dialog box (they simply press Ctrl+Alt+Delete to access it) to lock their workstations when they leave their desks. An unattended, unlocked workstation is an open invitation to data theft and compromise.

Laptops are somewhat more difficult to secure physically because they're designed to move around. I know of several high-ranking Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard (HP) employees whose unsecured laptops were stolen from their offices, so no one is immune to laptop theft. Buy some cable locks, and teach people to use them. And make sure users take advantage of Encrypting File System (EFS), which ships with Windows XP and Windows 2000, to secure crucial data.

Finally, investigate and use the Syskey utility on all your machines. Attackers often target systems from which they can harvest local account information, but Syskey effectively prevents this type of attack. Syskey is turned on by default in XP and Win2K, and you can enable it manually in Windows NT 4.0 Service Pack 3 (SP3) and later.
None of these steps, other than purchasing locks, costs money. The trick is to use built-in security features to the maximum. Of course, you can do a lot more to beef up physical security, including adding appropriate surveillance and auditing equipment and improving environmental protection (e.g., heating, cooling, fire suppression) measures (see the URL below for some other physical-security suggestions). However, high-end "gates, guards, and guns" measures aren't necessary for most sites. The simple steps I've described will help ensure that your Exchange servers and client systems are (physically) there when you need them.

"Computer Room Fortress" [Windows and .NET Magazine Network]

 October 21, 2002
Why do I receive Stop Error 0x0000007E in Windows XP when I add. a new USB device?

[Windows and .NET Magazine Network] If the USB bandwidth consumption exceeds the 100-percent maximum that the USB 2.0 update or XP Service Pack 1 (SP1) allows, you'll receive the error you mention. Specifically, if existing USB devices are already using the maximum bandwidth and you add another USB device (e.g., if you're viewing streamed audio or video through a USB device and plug in another USB device), you'll receive the following error message:

STOP: 0x0000007E (0xC0000005, , , ) usbhub.sys

To work around this problem, you can take one of the following actions:

  • Connect your keyboard, mouse, or other USB device before you start streaming USB video or audio.
  • If you've already started streaming USB video or audio, either stop or pause the stream, connect the keyboard, mouse, or other USB device, then start the stream again.
  • If your computer has multiple USB host controllers, connect the keyboard, mouse, or other USB device to a USB host controller separate from the USB host controller that you're using to connect the USB video or audio device. Most computers sold in the past year have two or more USB host controllers. To verify this configuration, view the USB host controllers in Device Manager (go to Start, Settings, Control Panel, System, Hardware, and click Device Manager).

How can I configure the grace period that Windows uses for password-protected. screen savers?
By default, when you activate a password-protected screen saver, Windows provides a brief grace period during which keyboard and mouse activity will stop the screen saver and let you access the system without having to enter the password. To modify this grace period, perform the following steps:

  1. Start a registry editor (e.g., regedit.exe).
  2. Navigate to the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESOFTWAREMicrosoftWindowsNTCurrentVersionWinlogon registry subkey.
  3. From the Edit menu, select New, DWORD Value.
  4. Enter the name ScreenSaverGracePeriod, then press Enter.
  5. Double-click the new value, set the "Value data" to the number of seconds (from 0 to 2,147,483) that you want to use for the grace period, set the Base type to "decimal", then click OK.
  6. Restart the machine for the change to take effect. [Windows and .NET Magazine Network]

Tip: Listing Installed Computer Services On Windows Xp.
You'd be amazed by how much email I receive from people who ask, "What are those dozens of services that my computer runs, and how do I figure out which is the service I just installed that's causing problems?" A quick look at my own Windows XP system shows almost 100 services running. However, despite all the applications and hardware installed on my computer, almost all of my services are directly from Microsoft. In fact, on my computer, only 10 of the 97 listed services are non-Microsoft applications.
How did I get that information so quickly? On XP, it's easy: Just go to Start, Run and launch msconfig.exe. Click the Services tab to see all the installed services and their current state (running, paused, or stopped). Click the Hide All Microsoft Services check box to see what's installed that isn't from the OS or a Microsoft application. [Windows and .NET Magazine Network]
Building Your Own Windowsupdate Server. With the advent of the Automatic Updates client in Windows 2000 Server Service Pack 3 (SP3), many administrators will want to manage security hotfixes and bug fixes internally. Paula Sharick offers instructions for installing and configuring your own WindowsUpdate server at the following URL: [Windows and .NET Magazine Network]
Building a Dead Silent PC [Slashdot] The folks over at HardCoreWare.net have finally lost it. They built a PC that's well over twenty times quieter than their comparison PC (40 dB versus 65). And it's no sluggard, either: P4 2.80 GHz, 7200 RPM hard drive and--get this!--an overclocked to the max GeForce4 Ti 4200! The only fan in the entire system is in the PSU."
 October 19, 2002

Locking Down an IIS Box

Microsoft released the Latest IIS Lockdown tool last week. On that note we thought we could help you out with some info on securing an IIS box. Credit Mark Burnett and also eEye's Mark Maiffret for the following info on Locking down IIS.

Hardened configurations are a GREAT start, but not the end of it all, NOR is only one good security configuration or product the total end. And your environment will dictate what you do. You need everything, and then still need to pray to the server gods at night. This prayer includes having the SecureIIS god on your side.

Most of these preventions are common steps that are on many security checklists. In fact, there are eight basic steps that prevent most attacks:

  1. Put IIS on its own partition.
  2. Use packet filtering to block unused ports.
  3. Do not use FrontPage Server Extensions or WebDav on a production server.
  4. Disable all unused services or Windows components.
  5. Remove all unused ISAPI script mappings.
  6. Set the minimum required IIS permissions (do not allow script/executables if you are not using them).
  7. Set proper NTFS permissions.
  8. Do not put sensitive information in ASP files.
  9. Use the MaxClientRequestBuffer (see Q260694).
Of course, it is important to install service packs and hotfixes and it does help to have 3rd party add-ons for an additional layer of protection. We can help you manage the hotfixes too with UpdateEXPERT

You want to follow the recommended best practices and hardening checklists for windows and IIS. A streaming video of SecureIIS, setup and config, 10 minutes, WM8: and click on the QUICKDEMO Icon. Eval downloads available too.

W2Knews Oct 21, 2002 (Vol. 7, #67 - Issue #398)
Copyright Sunbelt Software Distribution, Inc. 1996-2002.

 October 17, 2002

Today's focus: Protecting one LAN from another

I have worked with several firewalls and have not seen one that is focused on protecting one LAN from another LAN. The caveat is that both LANs would need access to the Internet via some additional firewall located on another segment.
The firewalls I have worked with assume that you will access the Internet via the existing WAN port on the firewall. If you don't want to do this, that is, you want to push them toward another firewall to go on the Internet, it fails. I realize you can do this with a router and two LAN ports, but I am interested in the doorknob twists and reporting. I was wondering if anyone is deploying this kind of scenario and what product(s) they might be using.
-- Chip Gerald

By Ron Nutter - What you are asking to do is becoming more and more common.

You have to protect from hackers from inside your network as well as outside of your network. Novell has shown this as one way to use their Border Manager firewall product for several years.

The main thing that you need to do is to turn off NAT (Network Address Translation) on the firewall servicing a LAN to LAN segment on your network and let it act as the router that it essentially is.

Once you have NAT turned off, make sure that each side of the network can talk to the other. This part has to be working right or when you go to the next step, which involves putting filters in place to allow only the traffic through that you want on a particular segment.

Doing packet filtering, where you only allow the traffic in and out that you want is an area to proceed carefully in.

I cannot stress strongly enough that if you don't know how to use a protocol analyzer now, spend the time before trying to do packet filtering with a firewall. For standard applications such as SMTP, WWW, etc., you won't need an analyzer to help you setup the filters as a general rule. Where it will come in handy is when you have special applications from companies such as banks that are using different port numbers or use port numbers that can shift.

As to specific product recommendations, talk to the individual vendors themselves to see if they can operate in that environment. You should be able to use vendors such as Cisco, Nortel and Novell to mention just a few of the possibilities that are available.

You can expect to find a wide variety when it comes to reporting. Some vendors will give you a text file that you will have to sift through, where others may be able to talk to a syslog server where you can have a little more control over how the output is formatted.

Ron Nutter is a Master Certified Novell Engineer and Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer in the Lexington, Ky. area. Send questions to mailto:helpdesk@networkref.com.

NW Digital Grease Monkey 10/16/02 Copyright Network World, Inc., 2002


Windows XP Voice/Video Conferencing

I've always thought one of the neatest things you could do with an Internet connected computer is voice and video conferencing. The idea of using the Internet as a medium to connect to anybody in the world to have a voice/video conversation seemed to be the height of coolness. For the price of a local telephone call to my ISP, I could circumvent the traditional long distance telephone network and carry on real-time live voice/video calls!

Windows XP takes voice and video conversations to the next level by leveraging two different technologies. You can use the old Microsoft voice/video conferencing stand-by, which is NetMeeting, or you can use the new kid on the block - the MSN Messenger. These two voice/video technologies work in different ways and have slightly different capabilities.

NetMeeting is installed on Windows XP, although you won't see it in the Start menu. You have to search the hard disk to find the conf.e x e file and double click that file to get it started. NetMeeting uses a collection of networking protocols known as "H.323". The H.323 protocol "suite" allows you to do all sorts of things, including voice/video communication, instant messaging, file transfer, and application sharing.

The MSN messenger allows you to do the same things you can do with NetMeeting, but it uses a different set of protocols. The primary networking protocol is the Session Initiation Protocol (SIP). Although the MSN Messenger supports the same features as NetMeeting, the MSN Messenger does even more things, such as advanced noise cancellation (which prevents echoes from your speakers) and something called "presence awareness" so that you can find other users easily and make calls to them.

Both NetMeeting and the MSN Messenger work great if both the caller and the callee are directly connected to the Internet. When I say "directly connected" I mean that both computers are connected to their ISPs via a modem or network interface and both computers have a "public" IP address that is accessible to any computer on the Internet. When both computers are directly connected to the Internet, voice/video and data conversations are almost a no-brainer.

You'll run into problems if you want to have voice/video conversations when computers are behind a "NAT" device. Most DSL "routers" are NAT devices. The Windows XP Internet Connection Service (ICS) is also a NAT device. Most standalone firewalls used to protect home and business networks are also NAT devices. In order to use the MSN Messenger and NetMeeting behind a NAT device, you need something called an "Application Layer Gateway (ALG)". For the MSN Messenger, you need a SIP ALG, for NetMeeting you need an H.323 ALG.

There aren't too many places you'll find an H.323 ALG. Microsoft's premiere firewall, Internet Security and Acceleration Server (ISA Server) includes a high quality H.323 ALG. Setting it up can be a complex affair but once you get it going it works great! We describe how to set it up in our ISA Server book "Configuring ISA Server: Creating Firewalls with Windows 2000". Many residential gateway manufacturers, like DLink, are now including software that will allow you to use the MSN Messenger to make voice/video calls to other users. You can also use the Windows XP ICS as your residential gateway and it will handle MSN Messenger voice/video conversations for computers on the network behind it.

The sad thing is almost no one I know takes advantage of these technologies! Every time I suggest that we save some money by using NetMeeting, the other person invariably says "why don't we just use the telephone". Arrgh! The telephone is going to cost us long distance charges! NetMeeting would be free. Maybe this is why the video phone never took hold? But even if the other guy doesn't want to be on video, we could still use just the voice capabilities.

Follow up on Windows XP Voice/Video Conferencing
There's a good number of you who have made the voice/video communications plunge! It was nice to hear so many of you are using the Internet to keep in touch with friends and family. Unfortunately, we heard from an even larger number of people who found voice/video technologies included with Windows XP too complicated and confusing to figure out! Firewalls and NAT routers just made it impossible for most of you to get voice/video services working. I want to thank those of you who suggested the Yahoo Instant Messenger. It turns out the Yahoo Instant Messenger is a lot easier to get working from behind a firewall. If you're going crazy trying to get NetMeeting and the Windows Instant Messenger working, then you should try the Yahoo Instant Messenger and see how that works for you. [Oct 22]

WinXPnews Oct 15, 2002 (Vol. 2, 41 - Issue 47) Copyright Sunbelt Software Distribution, Inc. 1996-2002.


Instant Access to your Desktop Icons

Are you the sort of computer user who likes to have 10 windows open at the same time? Browser windows seem to pop up out of nowhere and then there's the email program, the word-processing program, the media player and more. The problem with running all these programs at the same time is you often have to minimize everything to get to an icon on your desktop. Then you lose the order of your windows! What if you could get two-click access to those desktop icons without minimizing a single window? Check this out:

  1. Right click on an empty area of the Taskbar, point to Toolbars and click Desktop.
  2. You'll see a new toolbar called Desktop. On that toolbar you'll see a list of all the icons you have on your desktop. Just click one of the icons and it opens the file or application.

It doesn't get much easier than that!

WinXPnews Oct 15, 2002 (Vol. 2, 41 - Issue 47) Copyright Sunbelt Software Distribution, Inc. 1996-2002.

 October 16, 2002
Folders v2. This script divides long html pages into sections displayed as folders. [WebDeveloper.com]
SOHO-class e-mail servers. These e-mail servers are geared for small businesses and networks. Get access to remote administration, message scheduling, virus protection, and other handy features while keeping costs down. [ZDNet's Tech Update]
 October 15, 2002

XML with eXchaNGeR

By Mark Gibbs - One of the biggest dangers I encounter in writing this newsletter is becoming fascinated with the products and services I look at. I can find a new tool, start reading, get really interested, feel compelled to install it, play around, get really, really interested and suddenly discover that the better part of a day has passed.

That's exactly what happened when I came across eXchaNGeR (XNGR) (also on SourceForge).

The tool's author, Edwin Dankert, describes the eXchaNGeR XML Browser as an open source Java framework that visualizes elements in an XML Document. The user can either browse through and manage the visible elements in the document with external services, or make changes to the content of the XML Document with the built-in XML editor.

Installing XNGR is simple (we'll outline Windows installation here but there's also a tarred version for other platforms). First, download the ZIPped distribution and un-ZIP into the subdirectory of your choice (let the un-ZIPper create the paths specified in the archive).

Then download the services that add Simple Object Access Protocol, Scalable Vector Graphics and e-mail functionality and then the examples. Using the same starting directory you chose for the program un-ZIP all of these files, again allowing the un-ZIPper to create the paths.

You then load XNGR by running the supplied batch file and you are presented with the Explorer interface. This is where documents get added to categories (this is just to help you organize document collections and you can also add and delete categories) and where the documents in a category are listed.

To add services you invoke the XNGR Desktop interface from the Explorer menu and add services as needed. So far available examples services include SOAP, SVG, XHTML, e-mail, an address browser and an address editor.

You can load documents from local drives or download them by URL and even create new documents using the simple but workable built-in editor.

A document's element hierarchy can be displayed in the Explorer document window as long as it is successfully validated.

Validation requires referencing the URL of an XML namespace that defines the elements used in the document. If validation can't be done then the document can only be edited or its structure displayed.

Furthermore, an action can be associated with an element - for example, e-mail addresses can be associated with an e-mail service simply be registering the service (note that the example e-mail service provided is just a dummy for demo purposes that does nothing).

All of these neat features don't apply to documents that can't be validated.

Right clicking on a document offers a menu that includes editing the XML source with the built-in editor, reloading the document, moving the document to a category or deleting the document from the XNGR browser (but not from disk).

By right clicking on a document element in the Explorer document you can open the item, select from any of the available open operations associated with that element type (for the address example the choice are edit and browse), select the default open operation, select which action to apply to the element and examine the element's properties.

This is a really interesting tool and I suspect immensely useful for development. Now I must go and do some work...

Mark Gibbs is a consultant, author, journalist, and columnist. He writes the weekly Backspin and Gearhead columns in Network World. Gibbs is also co-conspirator of the Vitally Important Information Web site.

Network World Newsletter 10/14/02 - Copyright Network World, Inc., 2002


Feature: Remote Possibilities. We looked at a whopping 14 remote-control products that promise to bring IT support to the masses . Our pick? NetSupport Manager--thanks to its exceptional performance, enterpriseclass deployment and manageability, and wide OS support. [Network Computing]
THE BENEFITS OF MODULARIZATION | Tip: SearchWebServices.com. Those who've been reading my XML tips for a while may recall some discussions of XHTML modularization I covered last year. In the process of building some XML applications recently, I was forcibly reminded of this technology as I sought to combine pre-existing standard XML components with some customized XML markup of my own. >> CLICK for full tip... [SearchWebServices]
 October 9, 2002

Disk Investigator Freeware Allows You to Discover Hidden Data on Your Disk

Whoops! You just deleted a file by mistake. What's worse is that it's a text file with the names, addresses, phone numbers and email addresses of your most valued business contacts. Time for a new career? Maybe not yet. You might be able to retrieve that file using a freeware tool called Disk Investigator. This handy tool allows you to see everything on your hard disk. Discover hidden files and their contents - see what the spyware vendors have placed on your drive. See what your spouse is trying to hide from you! (just kidding). This tool is also helpful in verifying that your "disk wiping" utility really wiped. Download your free copy

WinXPnews Tue, Sep 17, 2002 (Vol. 2, 37 - Issue 43)


Print Selected Text and Graphics in Internet Explorer

A few of you have written in about how to print just the information you want from the WinXPNews. Printing the entire newsletter seems like overkill if you only want a hard copy for a particular section of the newsletter. No problem! Most Windows programs allow you to print just the selected area of a Web page or email. Check this out:

  1. Go to http://www.winxpnews.com and look around for a section of the newsletter you want to print.
  2. Drag select the information you want to print. You want to highlight everything you want to appear on the printed page.
  3. After you've highlighted the text you want to print, click the File menu and then click the Print command.
  4. In the Print dialog box, select the Selection option button in the Page Range frame. Click Apply and then click Print.
  5. Voila! Only the text you selected is printed. Is that cool or what?

WinXPnews Tue, Sep 17, 2002 (Vol. 2, 37 - Issue 43)


How to Install Windows XP SP1 when the SP Misidentifies Your Windows XP as Stolen

I received a number of reports from readers telling me they had a legitimate version of Windows XP they purchased themselves, but the Windows XP SP1 installation routine falsely reported that they had an illegal copy of Windows XP. I was somewhat suspicious of these assertions, but I like to keep an open mind. Then I saw the "Screen Savers" episode last week on TechTV (www.techtv.com) where they tried to install the Windows XP SP1 on a legit copy of Windows XP and it said that the copy was illegal! The guys on the show said their copy was completely legit and I have no reason not to believe them! So what should you do if this happens to you? Follow these instructions ONLY IF you have a legal copy of Windows XP and SP1 misidentifies your copy as illegitimate. We don't condone software piracy, so if you have a pirated copy, do not perform these steps.

  1. Download the Windows XP Service pack from Microsoft:
    http://premierdownload.microsoft.com/download/whistler/SP/SP1/WXP/en-us/xpsp1_en_x86.e x e
  2. Download the serial key patch at:
    http://www2.tweaktown.com/files/xpsp1.zip
  3. Unzip the serial key path to a folder on your hard disk. Double click on the SPPro-Corp-keyChange.exe file. A DOS window will open and list a number of serial numbers that will work on your computer. Read the instructions in the window.
  4. The Activate Windows dialog box opens. Select the Yes, I want to telephone a customer server representative to activate Windows. Click Next.
  5. The Activate Windows by phone dialog box appears. Click the Change Product Key button on the bottom of the screen.
  6. In the Change product key dialog box, enter one of the product keys you found in the DOS window in the New key text boxes. After entering the key, click the Update button.
  7. You'll be taken back to the Activate Windows by phone dialog box. Close that dialog box as your key has been updated.
  8. Double click on the service pack file that you downloaded. The service pack will now install with no problem!

Note that with the new key, you may have problems with the Microsoft phone representatives in the event that you need to reinstall Windows XP. Just explain to them what happened and I'm sure they'll be more than glad to accommodate you [g]. A better solution is to save the service pack file in a safe place. Then wipe your disk clean and reinstall Windows XP with your original key. Go through the procedure above to reinstall the service pack. You want to make sure you save the current service pack, because there's a good chance that Microsoft will update the SP and prevent the fix from working.

Many thanks to Cameron Wilmot from www.tweaktown.com for pointing us in the right direction for this fix!

WinXPnews Tue, Sep 17, 2002 (Vol. 2, 37 - Issue 43)


Speed Up Windows XP Shutdown

Want to speed up shutdown in Windows XP? If so, one thing you can do is allow the shutdown routine to force shutdown of applications. Some applications will prompt you to save data before shutting down. If you want to shutdown, and shutdown fast, try this out:

  1. Click Start and click the Run command. Type Regedit in the Open text box and click OK.
  2. Navigate to the following Registry key:
    HKEY CURRENT USERControl PanelDesktop
  3. Double click on the AutoEndTasks entry and replace the 0 with a 1 in the Value data text box. Click OK in the Edit String text box.
  4. Double click on the WaitToKillAppTimeout entry in the right pane and change the Value data to 3500. Click OK
  5. Click Start and then click Turn off the Computer.

Click the Turn Off button and watch how fast the computer shuts down!

WinXPnews Tue, Sep 24, 2002 (Vol. 2, 38 - Issue 44)


Open Up Internet Explorer Superfast!

Want Internet Explorer to open up superfast? Then try out this quick tip. You need the Quick Launch Bar running to make the most out of this.

  1. Right click on the Internet Explorer link in the Quick Launch bar and click Properties.
  2. In the Target text box, at -nohome at the end of the line. Mine looks like this:
    "F:\Program Files\Internet Explorer\IEXPLORE.E X E" -nohome
  3. Click Apply and then click OK.

Now click on the Internet Explorer link on the Quick Launch Bar. POW! IE flies open. No default Web page shows, but you can type in where you want to go.

WinXPnews Tue, Sep 24, 2002 (Vol. 2, 38 - Issue 44)


Your Definitive Windows XP Lockdown Guide

I don't know about you, but I'm getting really tired of dealing with security issues. I want to turn on my computer, surf the Internet, get email and play some games. That's about it. There's only so much you can do to secure your computer, and after that, it's anyone's game. What are some things you can do to tighten up your Windows XP Computer's security?

  • Verify that all disk partitions are formatted with NTFS
  • Protect file shares
  • Use Internet Connection Sharing for shared Internet connections
  • Enable Internet Connection Firewall
  • Use software restriction policies
  • Use account passwords
  • Disable unnecessary services
  • Disable or delete unnecessary accounts
  • Make sure the Guest account is disabled
  • Set stronger password policies
  • Set account lockout policy
  • Install anti-virus software and updates
  • Keep up-to-date on the latest security updates

If you take care of all these issues, you should be in good shape. Oh! And one more thing, make sure you get a spam whacker. Read on for details on one of the best. More info on locking down your Windows XP computer

WinXPnews Tue, Sep 24, 2002 (Vol. 2, 38 - Issue 44)


How To Launch CDs with HTML Applications: A well-designed CD launcher can raise end users' confidence in your applications, even before they install them, by presenting read-me or pre-installation requirements information to the end user, providing help, checking for required third-party software or operating system requirements, advertising other products or services available, and (most importantly) simplifying the process of installing the software. [DevX]
Setting OWA Email and Calendar Notifications. Discover how the WebDAV protocol's Subscribe and Poll methods combine to support OWA email notifications and calendar reminders. --Kevin Laahs [Exchange and Outlook UPDATE]
Customize Folder Views. Sue reveals several ways to customize the views on specific folders. --Sue Mosher [Exchange and Outlook UPDATE]
Send Email Anonymously. Find out whether you can send email anonymously in Outlook. --Sue Mosher [Exchange and Outlook UPDATE]
Make Hidden Commands Visible. The functionality you want might be a hidden command in Outlook 2002. Here's how you can make all commands visible. --Sue Mosher [Exchange and Outlook UPDATE]
Export Contacts to a Web Page. Here are several ways that you can export your Outlook Contacts to a Web page in an attractive format. --Sue Mosher [Exchange and Outlook UPDATE]
Open Web Pages from the Toolbar. Find out how to open a Web page from the Outlook toolbar. --Sue Mosher [Exchange and Outlook UPDATE]
 October 7, 2002
Popup Calendar. Popup to fill the dates in your forms, in the format you define, and it helps you to validate them. [WebDeveloper.com]

Today's focus: Broadband backup ABCs

Network World NET.WORKER By Jeff Zbar  10/03/02

The Internet makes telework possible and small or remote offices productive. Fast Internet connections erase the feeling of isolation from company workflow, and when organized correctly, you can hardly tell the difference between working in a cubicle in the office and a home office.

When your Internet connection stops, however, you may as well be home with the flu. At least with the flu, you'd have an excuse for not getting any work done. If you run your small business communications via the Internet, losing your connection hangs an "Out of Business" sign on your electronic door.

Now that recent studies show more than 90% of U.S. households have access to broadband service, you may be able to justify the cost of two dedicated broadband connections from different DSL and/or cable providers. If one drops out, the other one keeps you connected.

Nexland's new Pro800turbo router with two broadband modem ports links your office with two broadband providers at one time. The device also includes a serial port for linking to a dial-up or ISDN modem. My home office currently runs on AT&T cable, replacing a much slower and more expensive DSL connection.

Since the cable speed is 10 times faster, I set the AT&T cable as the primary link and the DSL as the backup. Nexland's Pro800turbo linked to the AT&T cable immediately, but the DSL link required some digging into the manual to find the right combination of IP addresses and network settings.

Once configured and running, I turned off the AT&T modem. It took about 45 seconds for the Nexland to convince the DSL line to pick up the connection. (Connecting via analog will take a couple of minutes.) When you realize that large companies spend tens of thousands of dollars for dual-link routers and load balancing equipment, seeing a $399 router provide fairly quick failover connections is impressive.

If your broadband links are roughly equal in speed, the Nexland Pro800turbo also provides load-balancing. Packets are interleaved between the two different connections giving you more throughput. You can configure a ratio of traffic for one link to the other, and cleverly choose which link always connects to your e-mail server.

However, problems with dual connections include handling IP addresses for inbound servers and connecting to outsourced e- mail servers. When your ISP provides your e-mail host, it limits who can send e-mail out through the server to only those clients on its network. This eliminates what's called an "open relay" mail server, which forwards mail from anyone and any network, a method used by spammers. So if you have your e-mail host on Network A and try to connect to it via Network B, you get treated like a spammer and blocked. Nexland remedies this by offering to send all e-mail traffic through one provider, a nice touch configured with one click of the Web-based administration utility.

Nexland includes the warning, as it should, that you should use two different service providers. Redundancy only comes with two completely different providers giving you different wiring plants and routing points upstream between you and the Internet.

There are other ways to provide redundancy, too, but none work as quickly or as automatically as the Nexland Pro800turbo.

Order the DSL and cable modems from your providers, then connect the faster service to your single-connection SOHO router. When that service drops, plug your router into the other service's modem, and reboot your modem, your router, and your computers.

Some other SOHO routers also support dial-up modems for backup. Check with your broadband provider to get the dial-up number for your area, and test it through your router. It will be slow, but it will be there. You should even check out dialing up with your internal modem, just in case.

If you can't afford dual-broadband links or they aren't available in your area, at least check out your dial-up options before disaster strikes.

Jeff Zbar is an author and speaker on telework, free agency, and small or home office (SOHO) issues. His books include Safe@Home: Seven Keys to Home Office Security (FirstPublish, 2001) and Your Profitable Home Business Made E-Z (Made E-Z Products, 2000). Jeff works from home in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. Questions or comments? Write him at mailto:Jeff@goinsoho.com.

Copyright Network World, Inc., 2002


Color Outlook holidays automatically

Adding foreign holidays to the Calendar is easy. However, Outlook doesn't differentiate foreign from domestic holidays.

If your users travel frequently and want to see local holidays set off from "home" holidays, have them set up an automatic formatting condition to handle it. Outlook 2002 allows users to format a view so that holidays from a specified country appear in a particular color.

To color all holidays from a given country:

  1. Choose View | Current View | Customize Current View and click Automatic Formatting.
  2. Click Add and enter an original name for the view into the Name field (e.g., "Holidays - <country>", replacing <country> with the country name).
  3. Select the label color from the Label drop-down list. Click Condition and then click Advanced.
  4. Click the Field drop-down button, choose All Appointment Fields, and choose Location.
  5. Choose Contains from the Condition drop-down list and enter the country name in the Value field.
  6. Click OK and close all of the dialog boxes.

The Calendar view now shows the holidays for the selected country using the color of label you chose.

Outlook Tips at TechRepublic.com Visit TechRepublic | October 7, 2002

 October 4, 2002
Lithic Calendar. Updated! Looking for a fast-loading applet to provide some functionality to your site? This calendar applet may just be the ticket! The calendar shows a different image for each month, and users can go backwards or forwards in the calendar year. [WebDeveloper.com]
 September 26, 2002
Galaxy. "Galaxy" displays a rotating, three-dimensional galaxy. It comes with plenty of parameters for changing the appearance competely. Cool! [WebDeveloper.com]
 September 18, 2002

AskSam's SurfSaver helps you save your favorite pages

As you surf the Web you're bound to find stuff you want to keep. But bookmarks are no good if the Web site is off-line or dead. And using the "save" feature in your browser isn't a very good solution as you'll then have to find an indexing and search tool to make any sense out of your archives. More ...

A solution that I've used for years, literally, is SurfSaver from askSam Systems. SurfSaver grabs the page you are looking at (and optionally the pages below that) and makes a local copy in SurfSaver's proprietary format and provides the tools for searching. SurfSaver installs on your browser (Internet Explorer 4.0+ and Netscape Navigator 4.0+) and when you find a Web page you're interested in, you simply right click to pull up the context menu and select one of the SurfSaver options.

The first of these options allows you to do a quick save, which makes a copy of the current page in either the last folder you saved to or a specific default folder. The save option allows you to save to a folder (and create a cabinet or folder if needed), as well as add keywords, select how many pages below the current page you want to save, and browse other network user's collections of saved pages so you can add to their collections. SurfSaver's third context menu option is to search your collection of saved pages. This uses the browser window to provide a display pane for any selected document and a pane that lists the page titles of pages that meet the search criteria.

Searching is very efficient and unlike IE's save function, SurfSaver can always save Web pages.

SurfSaver comes in two flavors: A free version, which you might prefer to avoid as it contains ad display spyware (which is how they can make it freeware - the spyware in use is Timesink/Conducent) and a "Pro" version for $29.95, which is advertising free. Despite the spyware in the free version, this is a great utility. And if you do any amount of Web-based research get the Pro version - it will make your life much easier.

By Mark Gibbs 09/16/02
NETWORK WORLD NEWSLETTER
Copyright Network World, Inc., 2002

 September 14, 2002
 September 12, 2002
NETWORK WORLD NEWSLETTER: MARK GIBBS on WEB APPLICATIONS
Today's focus: Researching domains
By Mark Gibbs 09/12/02

I don't know about you but I find myself researching domains with monotonous regularity. And while VeriSign provides a multiple domain WHOIS service the format of the results depends on which registry the data comes from and the searches offered are the most basic (essentially just secondary and top level domains with no wild card searching). More ...

So, if you'd like a better and far more useful service, check out Whois Report. WIR offers all sorts of really slick features, including:

  • Searches of historic domains.
  • Searches of current domains.
  • Searches of historic and current domains combined.
  • Displays of results color-coded by Web site status.
  • An option to exclude numbers or hyphens.
  • Displays COM, NET, ORG, BIZ, INFO, and US top level domains.
  • Wild card searching.
  • Multiple keyword searching.
  • Enhanced Whois capability.
  • Block keywords.
  • Search for domains with keywords in the same order.
  • Option to block domain longer then 25+ characters.

The home page offers a search interface that implicitly supports substring searches (enter "gibbs" and you get a paginated list of all domain names that include the string). If you enter a top-level domain name it will be stripped off automatically.

The output format is terrific: Each results page (you can choose from 20, 40, 60 or 100 results per page) has a line for each matched secondary domain and columns for the main secondary domains (COM, NET, ORG, INFO, BIZ and US). Under each TLD the column is split into two entries: a link named "w" for WHOIS information and another named "v" to view the Web site.

You can find out which domains are most active on the information page, also take a look at Daily Changes.

WIR also allows Web sites to host their own search page for remote searching of whoisreports that only requires you to include the "powered by" link. And if you want a really powerful interface to the service, the company offers an API. WIR has an interesting business model: "We do not sell nor do we advertise, our goal is to be the best domain searching tool. We will only make money by licensing our API to ICANN Registrars so they can build sites like this one."

A round of applause to WhoisReport.com - Way cool.

Copyright Network World, Inc., 2002


The .NET Architecture Center

IT professionals can easily be overwhelmed by the mass of technical information that's available on the Web and in myriad other formats, and separating the informational wheat from the chaff can be a real challenge. You have to figure out how to meld together a jumble of random white papers, Microsoft articles, and newsgroup discussions to create a cohesive body of information that will help you do your job effectively. Often, the only difference between an expert and other technical professionals is that an expert has more time to hunt down arcane information. More ...

I've beat this drum many times in the past, and although I don't fault Microsoft for providing too much information, I do think the company could provide more best-practices-style information to knit together the wealth of information that's spread across numerous Microsoft knowledge sources. So I was pleased when I recently stumbled across an MSDN site that seems to pull much of this information together, the .NET Architecture Center.

Don't let the .NET moniker fool you. This site includes plenty of valuable technical information related to SQL Server and data management. The site's welcome message says the Architecture Center is "devoted to business, software, and infrastructure architects." The Center includes content from Microsoft product teams, MSDN, TechNet, and Microsoft's new Architecture Review Board and serves multiple perspectives of enterprise architecture. The Center also provides a way for Microsoft to provide architectural guidance, announce new architectural content on MSDN and TechNet, and highlight community events such as architecture Webcasts.

The vision of the site's developers is ambitious, and keeping the site up-to-date with relevant best practices won't be easy. I'm taking an I'll-believe-it-when-I-see-it approach. But I applaud Microsoft for recognizing the need for a site such as this one. At first glance, the content seems strong. I'll point out nuggets of interest to the SQL Server community in future editions of SQL Server Magazine UPDATE. Does the site live up to the lofty goals outlined above? Spend some time at the site when you have a chance and let me know what you think.

SQL Server Magazine UPDATE, September 12, 2002
Copyright 2002, Penton Media, Inc.
Brian Moran, news editor, brianm@sqlmag.com


Eight Commandments of Credit. Follow these rules to win at the borrowing game. [The Motley Fool]
 September 11, 2002

Cookie cookery

This week, an old Internet favorite - a technology that is pervasive on the Web, old as the hills (at least by Internet standards) and fairly misunderstood. The technology in question is cookies, those little nuggets of data that are ignored by most and considered to be "the end of civilization as we know it" by some.

Cookies are tiny chunks of data that Web sites hand to and receive from your Web browser in an effort to track your travels, tag your hopping to make you statistically significant or created to make your preferences available on subsequent visits. More ...

The way cookies are created is simple: When your browser makes a request to a Web server the server replies and a special field in the response header instructs your browser to store the cookie data supplied by the server. Here's what the header of a server response looks like when it includes a cookie setting request:

HTTP/1.1 200 OK
Date: Wed, 04 Sep 2002 20:20:13 GMT
Server: Apache/1.3.12 (Unix) mod_ssl/
2.6.6 OpenSSL/0.9.6 mod_fastcgi/2.2.10
Set-Cookie: Apache=63.207.158.10.
289511031170813230; path=/; expires=Fri, 03-Sep-04 20:20:13 GMT
Connection: close
Content-Type: text/html

This header is from a request for the root page of Network World's Web server, http://www.nwfusion.com, and the tool we used was Ipswitch's WS_Ping ProPak ($37.50), which has a feature that lets you retrieve Web pages as plain text (among other things).

By now you've probably figured out that the header line that is relevant to us is the one starting "Set-Cookie:." This is a request that tells a cookie-compliant browser to take the data following the request and create a file to store it in. The name of the cookie file is up to the browser implementer - Microsoft Internet Explorer under Windows names cookie files by appending the second-level domain name from the server's URL to the current user's name. Thus, our cookie for Network World Fusion is named gearhead@www.nwfusion.txt and is stored in the folder "C:\Documents and Settings\gearhead\Cookies." Under the Netscape browser cookies are stored in a file named cookies that can be found in "c:\netscape\users\default."

The cookie data is defined by six parameters. These are the cookie name, its value, the expiration date, the path for which the cookie is valid, the domain the cookie is valid for and whether a secure connection must be available when the browser returns cookie data to a server.

The name in our example is "Apache," and the value is "63.207.158.10.289511031170813230." The name is only significant to a server that sets the cookie, and you'll often see default values such as "Apache" and "SITESERVER" where a coding library has been used to handle cookies.

The domain is a critical part of this system because it defines the domain or subdomain to which the cookie data will be sent with each browser request. The path also defines the start of a subtree under the domain's Web root to which the cookie applies, thus info and users under myserver.com could have different cookies. If a path is not set, it defaults to the URL of the document creating the cookie.

Of course, you could just as easily set cookies for each subtree and by setting the path "/" have the cookies returned with every request. We've looked at quite a few cookies, and we suspect that this feature is rarely, if ever, used. The reason is obvious - the overhead of extra cookies is not significant, and it involves less work when Web site changes are required.

The expiration date is what you might guess, the date after which the cookie data is no longer valid. If a value isn't set, then the cookie - called a "session cookie" - is stored in memory only and deleted when the browser exits.

The designers of the cookie system never considered that someone might not want cookies to expire, so you'll often see cookies with expiration dates such as some date and time in 2038. 2038 is often the maximum year used for a really dumb reason: The Unix clock started on 1/1/70. The variable time_t, which records the number of seconds elapsed, is considered to have been 0 at 00:00:00 on 01/01/70. This variable is a long "int" - an integer represented by four bytes divided into a value of 31 bits with one sign bit. This means the highest value time_t can reach before it becomes 0 again is 2,147,483,648 seconds or 24,855.1348 days or roughly something over 68 years. This equates to 3:14:07 AM on Jan 19, 2038.

Once a cookie has been created, each time the browser makes a request for the cookie's domain and path, the browser will pass that cookie's data to the server automatically as part of the request header.

Note that the cookie is only handed to the server if the domain matches exactly as far as it is specified. That is to say if the given domain of a cookie was gibbs.com then the domains gibbs.com, http://www.gibbs.com and http://clients.gibbs.com would be passed the cookie. On the other hand, if the given domain was www.gibbs.com then gibbs.com and clients.gibbs.com wouldn't be passed the cookie, while http://www.gibbs.com and http://m1.www.gibbs.com would.

Another interesting feature of cookies managed by Internet Explorer is that the date and time of creation and last access, along with the number of times the cookie has been accessed, is recorded in the Explorer cookie file (none of these extras is included when the data is sent to a server).

One parameter we didn't go into in any depth was the secure flag. As we said, if this is set (secure=TRUE) then the cookie should not be passed to the server unless the connection used is secure (using SSL, for example). The default is secure=FALSE.

Of course all that this security requirement does is keep the cookie data private while crossing the Internet. Cookies have no mechanisms to ensure that cookie data on the client doesn't get manipulated. This has resulted in an exploit that falls into the category of parameter manipulation.

In a parameter manipulation attack using a cookie, a malicious user changes the data that will be sent from a Web browser to the Web server (and any other components, such as middleware and back-end databases). The effect of the changes will depend on what the cookie is used for and how well-coded the server and other downstream components are.

Manipulation of cookie data can be prevented by encrypting the cookie data sent to the client or by sending an ID string as the cookie contents that is essentially a pointer to a database entry. To prevent the ID string from being secretly modified, the string needs to have a validation mechanism such as check digits.

If you want to keep an eye on what cookies, you have you're going to need some tools. We've got tools.

First up is a freeware utility called IE-Cookies-View from Nirsoft (Nirsoft is an alias for someone named Nir Sofer who appears to be committed to making stuff for free). IECookiesView (ICV from now on) is a small utility (92K bytes) that lets you explore all the Internet Explorer cookies on your computer. Explorer stores all the cookies for a given site and path in a single file (remember that a cookie is the combination of a key and an associated value). You can find cookies by Web site name, sort the cookies list or by any attribute displayed, delete unwanted cookies, save cookies to readable text files, copy cookie information into the clipboard, automatically refresh the cookies list when a Web site sends you a cookie, and display cookies of other users on your machine.

ICV will show cookies that are active, expired and what the author refers to as "duplicated cookies" (we have yet to see these or actually understand what they are). You can set ICV to automatically scan for new cookies or manually refresh the cookie list. ICV shows you the contents of each cookie file and can save the cookie keys and values in a nice, readable format. An interesting feature is that it examines the cookie's URL and attempts to find cookies placed by advertising sites. Cookies are marked as "Yes" for known advertisers, "Suspect" if the URL is related to that of a known advertiser or "Unknown."

This is a pretty useful tool scoring a Gearhead rating of B- with a commendation for being free.

Today's focus: Cookies get weird

A reader enquired: "Concerning "Cookie crumbs", I have a question. What more information would one need that cannot be found in the "Local SettingsTemporary Internet Files"?"

More information? The answer depends what you want more information about. If we're talking about cookies then, for example, under IE on Windows XP cookies are kept in the folder C:Documents and SettingsUSERNAMECookies as we discussed in the previous Gearhead cookie column. If you examine these cookies with the tool we discussed last week (IECookies View from Nirsoft) you can see where PC users have been browsing or, for that matter, where you have been browsing. If you want to keep your browsing habits private, then you might think a bout of deleting is called for. While removing cookies gets rid of one log of your browsing trail - there are many more sources. We'll come back to that topic later.

And note that if you delete any or all cookies, you may well be disabling automatic logon to registered sites that use a cookie to re-authenticate you. Of course a more paranoid viewpoint might argue that this is a good thing because if a miscreant makes off with your PC or simply copies your cookies, they could access any server you were set up to automatically log on to.

Now as a Web site owner/manager/lackey you should think about how you would support autologon using cookies. If significant financial or privacy risk is involved and you absolutely must have a cookie-based autologon, then you might think about checking the domain or IP subnet location of the user presenting the cookie. If that location data changes, then you might ask for the user to re-authenticate. You should also check the browser identity: A valid user is unlikely to suddenly change from XP to 98 or from OSX to W2K without authenticating themselves at least once in the normal manner.

Anyway, back to the question. The directory C:Documents and SettingsUSERNAMELocal SettingsTemporary Internet Files that the reader referred to is used for temporary storage of Web content. In here you find HTML documents, Flash animations, GIF and JPEG images - in fact a copy of everything that the browser has used to build every Web page it has retrieved. You also will find that all the cookies you can see in the folder C:Documents and SettingsUSERNAME Cookies are also here!

This is more nefarious Microsoft systems programming slight-of- hand. What you see in these directories are not all real files - some are links that are derived from the contents of index files and presented as if they are files!

And you'll notice if you use Windows Explorer and double click on, say, a JPEG image in the Temporary Internet Files subdirectory - a warning will be displayed saying "Running a system command on this item might be unsafe. Do you wish to continue?" At this point you may be wondering what the heck is going on. "What system command?" Go to the header bar of the right-hand pane and right click. In the context menu select "Internet Address" and voila! Each item is associated with the URL it was downloaded from. Double clicking won't launch the program for the associated file type, it will load Internet Explorer! This is not your average subdirectory!

NW Digital Grease Monkey
By Mark Gibbs
September 9, 16, 23 2002,
Copyright Network World, Inc., 2002>
 September 1, 2002

Customer Complaints Can Make You Money
By Darren Robinson September 1, 2002

Those of us selling goods over the internet will know that some customers are more difficult than others. At some stage somebody is going to want a refund.

If you run an honest business, this will be a relatively rare occurrence, and there's no use getting upset about it happening. In fact, by dealing with complaints in an attentive and caring manner, you can often convert a complaining customer into a loyal, long-term customer. More ...

If the complaining customer has not made the problem crystal clear (e.g. "I'm not happy with all this and I want my money back"), send a courteous email apologizing for the problem and ask for clarification on exactly what is wrong.

There are going to be situations when something that is out of your control, e.g. Argentina's postal system, causes a customer to get upset with YOU.

Let's assume the customer has a genuine complaint. Let's also assume that we are an internet company that sells books. It may be something straight-forward like "You sent me the wrong book". In this case you simply say, "Keep that book and I will now send you the correct book".

However most complaints will be difficult and sometimes impossible to easily prove right or wrong - you will just have to accept the customer's word.

An example might be "Page 54 is missing !" or "You charged my card 4 weeks ago and the book still hasn't arrived !" Or similarly "I sent you a money order 4 weeks ago, have you received it yet ?"

Assuming you haven't received the money order, simply ask the customer to take his duplicate receipt to the place he purchased the money order and ask for a refund.

When a customer claims not to have received a paid-for item or claims that the item is defaced or damaged, you are really at the mercy of circumstances and there's nothing you can do except try to make the customer happy, hoping like heck that the customer is being honest. You have no way to prove that the customer is not making it up just to get a free book out of you.

However, a refund is a last resort, not a first resort. Ask the customer if there is anyone else who may have picked up the parcel, or perhaps accidentally damaged it (eg a child may have torn the page out, or a business colleague or wife may have picked up the parcel and forgotten about it).

Do not cast doubt on the customer's story. It will upset them a great deal if you imply they are making up a story. However you are perfectly entitled to bring to their attention other possibilities.

Ask them if they would accept a credit on future purchases rather than an actual refund. For example, if the total cost including postage was $20, offer them a credit of $30. Many customers will be satisfied with this offer. Amazingly, some will accept but never actually use their credit !

Respond promptly to complaints. Everyone hates the feeling of being ignored after they have paid good money. Offer your opinion on what has gone wrong. More importantly offer a solution. I always try to offer MORE THAN one solution so that the customer feels he has some control over the situation.

Show them that you care and they will come back to buy more. The expenses you incur in resolving a complaint will be returned to you many times over through the continuing loyalty of a happy customer.

The whatUseek Weekly Ezine
COPYRIGHT (c) 2002 whatUseek Corp.

 August 30, 2002

Remote access and VNC

By Steve Blass

I am trying to allow a user Windows VNC access to her machine while on the road through a dial-up AOL account. The Linksys router does the network address translation and has one public IP address. I was able to NetMeeting into the machine by dialing up and then typing in the public IP address of the router. I also had to forward TCP Port 1503 to a static IP address behind the router. The only thing with this setup is that once connected, someone has to allow desktop sharing on the target machine. I would like to use the VNC server and client to connect instead - that way there is only a simple password to get in. Any ideas on how to do this or what port number should be forwarded?

You can do it with port forwarding, but you will need to open up two different ports. I ran a protocol analyzer (EtherPeek and Sniffer are good, Ethereal if you have little or no money in the budget) and found that VNC first uses 5800 to start a session and switches to 5900 once you have authenticated. This assumes you have installed VNC in a default configuration and aren't getting into some of the more advanced configuration settings available with newer versions of VNC. Even though you may have just set it up for her, I would do a quick check of Linksys' (http://www.linksys.com) Web site and make sure you have applied the latest firmware update available for your specific model of router.

This is just one option. Another option you might want to consider for added security is the latest release of Linksys' DSL router line, which has a VPN function in it. Although it is a little more expensive than the base DSL/cable router, it will allow you to avoid opening ports for the VNC traffic and also provide the option of VNC'ing to more than one machine behind the Linksys. While this may be a little more involved in terms of setup and more training for the user, it is a more secure solution because it helps protect the VNC password from getting into prying eyes and keeps information going back and forth encrypted. Depending on the customer's needs, you might be able to set up some network sharing so files can be copied between machines with the VPN connection in place.

Steve Blass is a network architect at Change@Work in Houston.

NW Digital Grease Monkey 07/31/02 - Copyright Network World, Inc., 2002


12:06:08 PM    
 August 25, 2002
Keep applications from stealing focus
Serdar Yegulalp - 24 Apr 2002

"Focus" is the term used to describe which application is currently enabled for typing or menu activity from the keyboard. When you switch to a given window, that window is said to be in focus.

Some applications like to steal program focus. This can be annoying if you are trying to get work done, and have an app that you need running constantly stealing focus from the one you're using to get your job done.

To address this problem, you can edit the registry to change how the system handles application focus.

  1. Run REGEDT32 and go to HKEY_CURRENT_USERControl PanelDesktop.
  2. Edit (or add, if it doesn't yet exist) the following REG_DWORD keys: ForegroundLockTimeout. This controls how long an app has to wait before it can seize focus. If this is set to 0 (which it is by default), then any program can grab focus. Set it to a decimal value of 200000, or 200 seconds, which will keep the program from assuming focus for that length of time.

ForegroundFlashCount: Controls how many times the taskbar icon for an app flashes when an app tries to take focus. It's set to 3 by default, but set it to 0 (decimal or DWORD), so that the taskbar icon flashes continuously until it's clicked.

These changes should take effect immediately.

Serdar Yegulalp is the editor of theWindows 2000 Power Users Newsletter

http://searchwin2000.techtarget.com/tip/0,289483,sid1_gci818731,00.html
 

3:41:50 PM    


Builder.com May 15, 2002
Master the art of contract negotiation, part 2

Application development managers almost always end up negotiating with suppliers for products or services. In order to sign a contract you can live with, prepare for the negotiations ahead of time and brush up on some common negotiation techniques.

Do your homework

Take these steps before the contract negotiations begin:

  1. Prepare a cost-benefit analysis for the product or service you desire.
  2. Identify the strengths and weaknesses of several competing suppliers' proposed offerings.
  3. After selecting one particular supplier to deal with, do an analysis of the chosen supplier, identifying items such as the supplier's current financial situation, strategic goals, and current client portfolio. (Be sure to take into account the supplier's financial calendar, as many organizations will be more willing to deal near the end of a financial period.)
  4. Collect information (either through peers or other professional contacts) about the sales people you'll work with; specifically, try to get a feel for the type of negotiating techniques they commonly employ.
  5. Determine what goals you want to achieve in the process before meeting with the supplier. However, also remember that negotiations require give-and-take. The golden rule of negotiation is that goals are fixed, and everything else is negotiable; that's where preparation comes into play.
  6. Remember not to make negotiations personal. Although it's common to become emotional during negotiations (especially angry or frustrated), don't express these feelings; savvy negotiators might seize the opportunity and use it to his or her advantage.

Familiarize yourself with these negotiation tactics

When you actually sit down to begin the contract negotiation process, here are a number of the tactics you may encounter (or even utilize yourself):

  • Play dumb: It's human nature to help those who are less knowledgeable. Therefore, in negotiations, application development managers might offer assistance to suppliers or let their guard down when they feel less threatened.
  • Hidden costs: In contract negotiations, it's often difficult to determine (and easy to hide) the real cost of items. Several common ways negotiators hide costs include expressing interest rates as percentages, conveying monthly costs rather than annual costs,and providing detailed costs, such as cost per individual item rather than total costs for materials.
  • Sidestepping (or decoying): This technique shifts the focus off the real issue and transfers the focus to another item.
  • Committing: By getting a vendor to make an offer prior to committing to a course of action, the offer will often be better than you expect.
  • Bracketing: This technique is when your offer is equidistant to your goal as is the vendors' offer. For example, if you're willing to pay $100 for an item, and the vendor is asking for $120, offer $80 to begin the negotiation. Try not to let the vendor catch on to what you're doing when negotiating for lower prices; one way to throw them off is by offering amounts in different dollar increments.
  • Flinching: Flinch at the first offer, regardless of how fair the price is. If you don't flinch, the vendor may assume that you'll accept that offer.
  • Good guy/bad guy: This common gambit takes many forms. Basically, one person puts up a big fight about certain aspects of the negotiation, seemingly to stall the agreement. Then another person follows with a fairly significant change that saves the deal.
  • Missing man: Both parties can't resolve a particular negotiating point because the person with the authority to make the decision isn't present or available.
  • Red herring: The negotiator invents a phony demand, which will later be withdrawn, in order to gain concessions.
  • Deliberate mistake: The vendor deliberately undervalues a particular item or leaves an item out in the preparation of a proposal. This item is then later stated as an oversight or an enhancement to the original proposal.

Scott Withrow has more than 18 years of IT experience, including IT management, Web development management, and internal consulting application analysis.


3:40:16 PM    


OL2002: Changing the Outlook 2002 "Cancel Request" Dialog Box Behavior (Q293650)

IMPORTANT : This article contains information about editing the registry. Before you edit the registry, make sure that you understand how to restore it if a problem occurs. For information about how to do this, see the "Restoring the Registry" Help topic in Regedit.exe or the "Restoring a Registry Key" Help topic in Regedt32.exe.

SUMMARY

In Outlook 2002, a feature is added notifies users that the connection to the Microsoft Exchange computer is taking longer than expected because of network congestion or server availability. This connection can include connections to the user's mailbox, a free and busy server, or any other server that Outlook may need to communicate with to fulfill a request for information. When such a delay occurs, the following Cancel Request dialog box is displayed:

Outlook is retrieving data from the Microsoft Exchange Server server_name . You can cancel the request or minimize this message to the Windows taskbar until Outlook closes the message automatically.

 

MORE INFORMATION

You may want to disable this feature or increase the time-out value if you experience frequent network congestion or other related issues. To suppress the Cancel Request dialog box or change the time-out value, either manually edit the registry or use a policy to configure the setting.

Manually Editing the Registry

Suppressing the "Cancel Request" Dialog Box

WARNING : Using Registry Editor incorrectly can cause serious problems that may require that you reinstall your operating system. Microsoft cannot guarantee that problems that result from the incorrect use of Registry Editor can be solved. Use Registry Editor at your own risk.

For information about how to edit the registry, see the "Changing Keys and Values" Help topic in Registry Editor (Regedit.exe) or the "Add and Delete Information in the Registry" and "Edit Registry Data" Help topics in Regedt32.exe. Microsoft recommends that you back up the registry before you edit it. If you are running Windows NT or Windows 2000, Microsoft also recommends that you update your Emergency Repair Disk (ERD).

To edit the registry to manually suppress the Cancel Request dialog box:
  1. Start Registry Editor (Regedt32.exe).
  2. Locate and click on the appropriate registry key listed below based on the method that was used to install Microsoft Outlook.

    If the Installation Wizard was used to install Outlook:

    HKEY_CURRENT_USERSoftwareMicrosoftOffice10.0OutlookCancelRPC
    If the Custom Installation Wizard was used to install Outlook:

    HKEY_CURRENT_USERSoftwarePoliciesMicrosoftOffice10.0OutlookCancelRPC
  3. On the Edit menu, click Add Value , and then add the following registry value:

    Value name : Disable
    Data type : DWORD
    Value data : 1
  4. Quit Registry Editor.

Changing the "Cancel Request" Dialog Box Time-Out Value

You can also manually specify the amount of time that Outlook waits for a connection to the server before the Cancel Request dialog box is displayed. This policy setting overrides the Exchange service Seconds until server connection timeout setting, although it does not disable this setting in the user interface (UI). To edit the registry to modify the policy setting:
  1. Start Registry Editor (Regedt32.exe). 
     
  2. Locate and click on the appropriate registry key listed below based on the method that was used to install Microsoft Outlook.

    If the Installation Wizard was used to install Outlook:

    HKEY_CURRENT_USERSoftwareMicrosoftOffice10.0OutlookCancelRPC
    If the Custom Installation Wizard was used to install Outlook:

    HKEY_CURRENT_USERSoftwarePoliciesMicrosoftOffice10.0OutlookCancelRPC
  3. On the Edit menu, click Add Value , and then add the following registry value (in this example, the value is set to 50 seconds):
    Value name : TimeToShowCancelDialog
    Data type : DWORD
    Value data : 50000 (the amount of time in milliseconds)
    NOTE: Type the connection delay that you want to allow as a decimal number representing milliseconds.
  4. Quit Registry Editor.

Using Policies to Set the Registry Values

You can also set the values that are described in the "Manually Editing the Registry" section by using group policies; you can use either the System Policy Editor from the Microsoft Office Resource Kit (ORK) or the Group Policy Editor snap-in for Microsoft Windows 2000 and Microsoft Windows XP.

3:36:20 PM    


Copying Analog Video to the PC, the Hard Way

By Paul Thurrott, News Editor, thurrott@connectedhomemag.com

Last week, I presented the first part of my look at converting video from a DVD home movie to the PC. As I mentioned previously, I wanted to find a PC or Macintosh application to convert the DVD video directly into AVI or QuickTime format (or MPEG-2, if required). If that approach didn't work, I'd try to route the DVD through the digital camcorder, by using FireWire, or settle for an analog copy by using Dazzle's Digital Video Creator II device.

After experimenting with several tools, I finally came back to the first utility I'd tried, DVD2AVI. As I noted last week, this application created a soundless AVI file, so I'd originally dismissed it. However, after failing miserably at converting the video by using other tools (or, in some cases, achieving some success with low-quality MPEG-2 rips), I returned to DVD2AVI (see the first URL below). I'm glad I did.

DVD2AVI does convert the audio, as well as the video; it just creates a separate Wave (.wav) file for the audio. I usually wouldn't be too keen about this approach, but Windows XP's Windows Movie Maker (see the second URL below) makes short work out of reincorporating the separated audio and video into a high-quality AVI file. Here's how I did it.

First, I copied the Video Object (VOB) files from the DVD movies into directories (i.e., DVD_1, DVD_2) on my hard disk and proceeded to process each file, one at a time. DVD2AVI features a deceptively simple UI that resembles a bare-bones media player at first. After launching the application, I selected File, Open, and chose a VOB file. Note that DVD2AVI will automatically select a series of related VOB files. (For example, if you have files called VTS_01_1.VOB and VTS_01_2.VOB and you select one file, DVD2AVI will automatically select both files.) I elected to override this behavior and process one VOB file at a time because the resulting files are so large. After I loaded the VOB file, the application window expands to the size of the video you're converting (702 x 480 in my case) but doesn't change otherwise.

Next, you select the audio options (you select the video options during the next phase). I chose to accept the default audio options--a 256Kbps .wav file, single channel, in stereo (the source was monophonic). Next, I selected Save AVI from the File menu and chose a name and location for the resulting files. DVD2AVI creates two files: one for the video and one for the audio. If you start with a file called VTS_01_1.VOB, DVD2AVI will name the resulting files VTS_01_1.01.AVI and something like "VTS_01_1 AC3 T01 1_0ch 256Kbps 48KHz.WAV," depending on which audio format you choose.

At this point, the Statistics window opens to display progress information while DVD2AVI converts the file. Also, a Video Compression window opens, which gives you a chance to choose among the following compressor types: Microsoft MPEG-4 Video Codec V1, Microsoft MPEG-4 Video Codec V2, DivX 5.0 2 Codec, No Recompression, and Full Frames (Uncompressed). For quality reasons and compatibility with Windows Movie Maker, I chose Microsoft MPEG-4 Video Codec V2. If you click Configure, you can select among various video smoothness and crispness settings and the data rate. I left these settings at the defaults and was satisfied with the results, but experienced video users might want to experiment here. After you've selected the compressor type and set the configuration settings, you click OK and DVD2AVI goes to work.

The conversion process, predictably, takes a while. A 7-minute clip, for example, took 20 minutes to convert on my Pentium 4 1.8GHz machine with 640MB of RAM. After the process finished, I loaded Windows Movie Maker 1.2, configured the application not to create video clips on import (which would be unnecessarily time-consuming), and imported the two resulting files. Say what you will about Windows Movie Maker, but it handles this part of the project with aplomb, and you can't beat the price--free! Simply drag both files into the Timeline area, line them up, and click Save Movie. I chose DV-AVI as the format, naturally, for the best results. Again, the 7-minute clip took about 20 minutes to convert into one AVI file; it occupies about 5GB of space. And you'd never know that the resulting video was once liberated from its audio track; the two blend seamlessly. I repeated the process for all of the VOB files.

Interestingly, after you complete this blending process, you're left with a lot of raw video on your system, and this is where the fun starts. To save disk space, I elected to delete all the VOB and .wav files. However, between the two DVD movies and 2 days of converting, I'd racked up more than 35GB of space dedicated to the AVIs I'd created. But I still had to edit these files down into cleaner copies that I will convert, yet again, to finished DVDs. I've already discussed this process in earlier Connected Home EXPRESS columns.

Video work, as always, is time-consuming and often frustrating. But amazing tools are now available to us, often for free. DVD2AVI is great at what it does, and I highly recommend it if you need this sort of functionality.

- Connected Home EXPRESS, July 31, 2002


3:29:52 PM    


Builder.com | August 21, 2002
Configuring the corporate development environment

As most companies consider their move to .NET, they may also take this opportunity to make a clean break with their legacy development environment. Those legacy environments - the developer workstations and the servers used for testing - were designed and configured three to six years ago to solve programming problems created by a connected, COM-based environment. Equipment, operating systems, and support software have made significant advances since companies originally configured their developers' machines. As Web applications evolved, many companies added shared Web servers or installed Web servers on development stations to allow for Web development, but didn't address the issue of properly configuring the whole development environment.

Companies with a small number of developers working on simple applications consume more overhead than necessary on configuring development workstations and an integrated development environment. Unfortunately, most companies start “small and simple” and expect their development environment to somehow magically scale to support robust development efforts. Sadly, this is not the case. Careful planning is necessary to ensure a productive environment.

System architects must take an active role in planning the configuration and management of the environment used to develop software. Their efforts have a direct bearing on the developer’s ability to produce quality software in a timely manner. More importantly, a development process with a focus on code management provides the benefits of reusability and an opportunity to protect the company’s core code assets. Let’s look at the three key elements of every .NET development environment—development workstations, development servers, and development procedures.

Development workstations

For .NET developers, all workstations should be running Windows 2000 Professional or Windows XP. I recommend that my clients give their developers machines with at least 1.0-GHZ Pentium III processors and 256 MB of RAM. This is faster than the average developer’s machine, but not state of the art. Most developers would benefit more from having a laptop and/or an additional monitor than from additional processors or memory. Laptops allow developers to work together in groups during design meetings or take the machines home at night to work on a difficult problem. An additional monitor lets them write code on one monitor while viewing the help system on another, or step through code on one monitor while seeing the result of the executing code on another. The ideal development environment for .NET requires machines with slightly more RAM, processor cycles, and disk space than the average workstation.

Developers working on Web applications or Web services must have a local Web server for use during development. In addition, the Microsoft Database Engine (MSDE) should be running to allow developers to build and test via local databases, stored procedures, triggers, and so on. MSDE includes all of the functionality of the more resource-intensive SQL Server 2000 Workstation, but it has no licensing cost and limits performance with more than five connections.

In many corporate environments, all data access is managed by centrally developed and maintained stored procedures called from data objects coded by database-focused developers. In these environments, the data-component authors should be encouraged to develop deployment packages that allow developers to download the latest versions of the components and setup scripts and set them up on their own local workstations. Install Visual Studio on each of the workstations, but consider installing MSDN on a central server where it can be updated in one place as new files are added (unless the workstations are laptops, in which case they’ll need local copies to allow access to help when disconnected). If you need to support applications running on Visual Studio 6.0, ensure VS 6 is installed with the latest service pack (version 5) before installing Visual Studio .NET. Finally, install the latest service packs for all of the workstation tools, including .NET Framework service packs, SQL Server service packs, and IIS service packs.

Development servers

Even if your individual workstations are configured to allow developers to create and test their projects locally, you must have a central location for developers to test the interactions between system components. At a minimum you need a shared Web server, a shared database server, and a source code management/build server with Visual Source Safe (VSS) or another source code management system. Ideally, the workstations and the shared development servers will exist in test domains similar to the deployment environment. If the deployment environment is a single domain, place the development servers in a development domain that is separate from the company’s core operational domain. This allows for user- and group-accounts creation to test security scenarios without needing to clear it with the company’s system engineering group. If a datacenter has database servers and Web servers in different domains for security reasons, you can simulate this environment with local development servers. The earlier you test against a development environment that simulates the production environment, the earlier you can detect and repair security-related bugs.

Development procedures

Creating the right development environment is only half the battle, however. You must have agreed-upon development standards for all developers to follow. For example, developers should be trained to use the source code management system and be expected to follow the rules for checking software in and out and for managing software versions. Once past the prototyping phase, the code your developers check in at the end of a workday should compile properly and facilitate building a version of the software every night. Having a nightly build procedure encourages developers to focus on tying up all the loose ends in a section of code before moving on to work on something else. The shared VSS and build server can be configured to automatically perform the nightly build and distribute the latest version of the code to the quality assurance group so that they can start working with the latest build the next morning.

As founder and president of eAdvantage, Tim Landgrave provides business strategy consulting services to VARs and xSPs.

http://builder.com.com/article.jhtml?id=u00320020821lan01.htm&;fromtm=e605
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10:08:33 AM    

Importing Analog Audio to the PC the Easy Way

By Paul Thurrott, News Editor, thurrott@connectedhomemag.com

An all-digital music library would be ideal, but most people have vast libraries of albums, cassettes, and other analog audio sources--not to mention other potential audio sources, such as concert DVD movies--that require analog copying. Wouldn't it be nice to get that content onto your PC?

The catch--and there's always a catch--is that recording analog audio requires that you hand-tune each recording. Cassette and album recordings, for example, generally contain a lot of background noise, such as hiss, so you probably want to fade in and out of each song. Then you need to consider hardware and software concerns: How do you physically connect the analog device to your PC, and which software should you use to edit the audio into acceptable clips?

Most users have sound cards on their PCs, but because the quality of these cards varies from machine to machine, you need to test your card before you commit to using it for recording analog audio. My desktop machine has Voyetra Turtle Beach's Santa Cruz sound card, and I found that the quality of the Line In port was much better than I had expected.

To test the sound-card Line In recording process, I searched for the most horrible-sounding analog recording I could find--a cassette tape of 1980s "power ballads" (and you thought I wouldn't take a bullet for the team), which I played back through a once-decent early-1990s Sony tape deck. To connect the stereo component to the PC, I purchased a $4 Recoton 6' Mini-to-RCA "Y" cable, which converts the RCA-based audio outs on the cassette player into one stereo minijack that fits the Line In port on my sound card. I also grabbed a 6' miniplug extension cable, just in case I couldn't get the cassette player close enough to the computer (also $4).

After dusting off the cassette player and making the physical connection, I had to figure out how to record the sound into the PC. All Windows versions come with a handy little tool called Sound Recorder, which lets you record through your sound card's microphone or Line In ports. Sound Recorder works strictly with the WAV (.wav) format, which is uncompressed (and thus creates large files), and it offers no real editing functionality (that is, you can't fade in or fade out--two crucial capabilities I needed). Thus, Sound Recorder is unsuitable for our work, although it would do in a pinch.

By searching the Internet, I found several tools that supply the features I wanted, and I ended up using E-Soft's $15 Audio Edit 3.3 shareware tool (see Resources below) that's easy to use and full-featured. But regardless of the tool you use, the process is the same. First, ensure that the Line In port is enabled in Windows (because it often isn't). To do so, double-click the speaker icon in your system tray (or, in Windows XP, select Start, Control Panel, Sounds, Speech and Audio Devices, Sound and Audio Devices, Advanced) and clear the Mute check box under Line In if it's selected. I left the volume level at its default, about 75 percent, but you might experiment with this setting based on the volume of the recordings you create.

Next, cue up the audio, which is generally a manual process on albums and cassettes, by pressing Play on the component stereo device, then clicking record in Audio Edit or your tool of choice; the tool will then prompt you to begin the recording. A couple of recommendations: First, before you begin, make sure the audio editor is set up to record from Line In (select File, Setup, Record Input Source in Audio Edit). Also, you should record songs individually, if you can, and leave room at the beginning and end of each song so that you have space for editing. You want a few seconds of lead-in and lead-out time so that you can create the appropriate fades.

After recording the song or selection, stop the analog playback. Then you can begin editing. For my tests, I chose a drecky Bad English power ballad called "When I See You Cry," which features a hissy, quiet piano introduction, making it the perfect candidate for a fade-in (not to mention the clearance bin at Sam Goody, but that's another story). Like most audio editors, Audio Edit presents a visual sound wave display that shows you the highs and lows of the recording you just made. A flat line represents silence. First, edit the beginning and end of each song so that, if possible, you have a second or two of silence. This process won't work with some recordings, such as live concert recordings, but it should be easy with most studio tracks. In Audio Edit, you can clip audio sections by selecting them in the sound-wave display area, just as you'd select text in a word processor. Then, select Edit and Cut. Do this both for the song's introduction and the ending, where appropriate.

Creating fades works the same way. Select a portion of the introduction, then select Command and Fade In to create a fade-in effect. You might need to test this process a few times to get it just right (you can undo from the Edit menu), but you should be able to remove any start of recording hiss. Ditto for the fade out. Audio Edit also includes other editing features that might be of interest, such as level adjustments, normalization, and silence insertion, which is why I opted to pay the shareware fee. For just $15, Audio Edit is a handy tool.

Like Sound Recorder, Audio Edit works only with uncompressed WAV format, so you'll probably want to convert the recording to MP3 or Windows Media Audio (WMA) format when you're finished editing. Select File, Save to save your recording in .wav format, then select your audio conversion tool of choice. As with the actual audio recording phase, several tools can do the job. If you're interested in using WMA format, I recommend the Plus! MP3 Audio Converter LE tool from the free Microsoft Windows Media Bonus Pack for Windows XP (it's also available in Microsoft Plus! for XP), which works with both MP3 and .wav input formats (see Resources below). To convert to MP3 format, I used Logipole's Konvertor shareware tool that works with numerous audio, video, and image formats. I converted the .wav file to 128Kbps MP3 format and tested it on several media players. You can also use Audio Edit to record directly to MP3 format and avoid the conversion step.

The resulting file sounds fine but is a bit lower volume than the other MP3 files in my media collection, and, of course, the quality isn't as high as my rips of professional audio CDs. But I did a quick test with an analog copy of a DVD concert recording to see how the sound quality stacked up compared with a typical CD rip of the same song. Surprisingly, they were virtually identical when I used 160Kbps MP3 format, which bodes well for this technique. Next week, I'll look at ways to improve quality for substandard audio sources, non-sound-card-based audio recording, and some Macintosh tools as well. If you've copied analog audio to the PC, please let me know if you have any tips or recommendations and I'll pass them along.

Resources


Last week, we looked at using analog lines to record audio sources to your PC. In such cases, the source you use is usually analog (e.g., a turntable or cassette player) but it doesn't have to be. You can also record audio from other sources (e.g., DVD players) that support analog Audio Out. In fact, I discovered that sound-card Line In recording works amazingly well: I couldn't tell the difference between a professional MP3 rip of a particular song and the version I recorded from an analog-connected DVD. Of course, your results could be different because of several factors, including the quality of your sound card, cables, or source material.

The tools I chose for Part One of this article series were free or low-cost because you don't always have to spend a lot of money to get the job done, especially if, in this case, you want to record only a few analog-based songs. However, if you have different needs, other options and far more professional tools are available. So this week, let's look at other options, some of which are based on reader feedback.

Nik Simpson noted that he recently went through a similar experience recording analog audio so that he could import music from LPs. In this case, the turntable had options for Phono Out and the standard Line Out, so he used the Line Out connection to hook up the component to his PC's sound card. But Simpson says that many turntables support only a Phono Out port, which will require a connection to a receiver/amplifier that can handle phono connections (you can then connect the receiver/amplifier to the PC). Of course, these days, turntables are increasingly rare.

Simpson added another important tip, one that I should have included in last week's article. When you record from the Line In port, be sure to disable anything on your PC that might make a noise, such as an email message or Microsoft Outlook Calendar notification. Otherwise, you might hear the notification sound in your recording.

Stephen Stoops recommended making one large recording for each side of an LP or cassette, rather than several smaller recordings, as I recommended. Live albums, in which there often isn't any dead space between songs, is one situation in which this style of recording is preferable. I recommended individual recordings because of hard disk space limitations and performance: The resulting files can be huge, especially if you're using WAV format, and you'll need a fairly modern PC to make such a recording. But if you are, in fact, recording entire albums and have the capacity, you can save disk space by removing the original WAV files after you convert them to MP3 or Windows Media Audio (WMA) format.

Stoops recommended two commercial software packages that several other readers also raved about: Roxio's Easy CD Creator and Sonic Foundry's Sound Forge 6.0. Easy CD Creator ships in two versions: Easy CD Creator, a basic version that often comes free with CD-RW drives and new PCs, and Easy CD Creator Platinum retails for about $100 (basic users can upgrade for $70). If you want to do analog recording with Easy CD Creator, you'll need the Easy CD Creator Platinum, which includes the SoundStream application that accomplishes this task. SoundStream is particularly good for cassette and LP recording because it includes automatic sound cleaning and pop-and-click removal, crucial features for these types of analog sources. I played around with SoundStream and its Spin Doctor utility, comparing the recordings with the ones I had made last week. Although the quality was similar, readers with extensive LP and cassette libraries will appreciate SoundStream's automated approach. Other nice features include a track splitter, which can auto-detect periods of silence, and auto-stop, which lets you set timed recording or stop recording after a defined amount of silence.

I don't have as much experience with Sound Forge, which is a professional audio editor. However, if your needs go beyond any of the basic techniques we've examined here, and you don't balk at its $350 price, this product is worth looking at.

My experiments with USB-based audio recording were surprisingly poor. I'm sure someone makes a good USB device, but my trusty Belkin Components' Belkin USB VideoBus II just wasn't up to the task. I tried to use this device in both Windows Movie Maker and Easy CD Creator's Spin Doctor utility, but in both cases the quality of the resulting files was unsatisfactory, with a lot of distortion. I'm not sure why the results were poor; movies I've recorded with the VideoBus device have acceptable sound. I'll keep looking into USB-based audio recording.

I don't have much to say about Macintosh-based analog audio recording because my two Macs--an Apple Computer's 2001 iBook and a flat-panel iMac--lack Audio In capabilities. Interestingly, Apple has corrected this situation with the eMac and the new Power Mac models the company introduced just last week. These products are the first Apple systems in quite some time to include Audio In ports, so other Mac owners will have to purchase some type of third-party add-on. I selected Griffin Technology's iMic, which is supposed to be excellent, but I haven't had a chance to test it. I'll report about this product in the future. The iMic also works with PCs, and I'm interested in getting a handle on USB-based audio recording.

- Connected Home EXPRESS, August 21, 2002

10:05:19 AM    

 August 24, 2002
Change the Windows XP Logon Prompt Message

How about jazzing up that Windows XP Logon Prompt message? Right now, it probably says "Enter a user name and password that is valid for this system". You can do better than that! You just need to do a minor Registry Edit.

  1. Click Start and click the Run command.
  2. Type Regedit in the Open text box and click OK
  3. Navigate to the following Registry key:
    HKEY LOCAL MACHINESOFTWAREMicrosoftWindows NT CurrentVersionWinlogon
     
  4. Click the Edit menu, point to New and click on String Value.
  5. Rename the value to LogonPrompt and double click on it.
  6. In the Edit String dialog box, type in your customer message in the Value data text box. Click OK.
  7. Close the Registry Editor and restart the computer.

WinXPnews Tue, Aug 20, 2002 (Vol. 2, 33 - Issue 39)


7:15:07 PM    


FAQ: HOW CAN I CONNECT TO A WINDOWS .NET SERVER (WIN.NET SERVER) CONSOLE?
( contributed by John Savill, http://www.windows2000faq.com )

A. The Windows 2000 Server family lets you make two connections to a server in Win2K Server Terminal Services administration mode without requiring additional licenses, but neither connection is an actual console session. Win.NET Server addresses this omission by letting you connect to the console session using technology taken from Windows XP's Remote Desktop feature.

The XP Remote Desktop Connection (RDC) client can connect to a console session, but this ability is hidden. To connect to a Win.NET Server console from an XP system, you have to start the RDC client with the /console switch by typing the following at the command prompt:

msdtc /console

The RDC graphical interface will start as usual, but the connection to the Win.NET Server will display a console session instead of creating a new RDP session.

To modify the RDC client shortcut to always include the /console switch, right-click the RDC client shortcut item on the Start menu, select Properties from the context menu, and add /console to the Target. For example,

C:program filesremote desktopmstsc.exe

becomes

C:program filesremote desktopmstsc.exe /console

If you aren't using XP, you can install the Win.NET Server RDC client on a Win2K or later client. Win.NET Server also ships with the Microsoft Management Console (MMC) Remote Desktops snap-in, which lets you connect to a console by selecting the "Connect to console" check box.
 

Windows & .NET Magazine Security UPDATE
Security UPDATE, August 21, 2002


7:14:38 PM    

 August 12, 2002
System Restore and the My Documents Folder
Tom Kling writes in with a very clever use of My Documents folder and how you can leverage its location to optimize your System Restore procedure:

"We all have some small programs that we download from the Internet that we just can't live without (i.e., ZoneAlarm or a great Remote Access program called VNC that I use). Instead of having to re-install from a CD or Zip backup, or much worse, having to re-download, I created a folder in My Documents called Program Files. Inside this Program Files folder I have a folder called Installs where I keep a copy of all the setup files for these programs (not necessary, but you never know when you'll want to share them or otherwise need the file).

Then, upon install, instead of using the default install directory (C:Program FilesThe Program) I add the additional "Documents and Settings\User\My Documents\" to end up with "C:\Documents and Settings\User\My Documents\Program Files\The Program\".

Everything still works the same, you still have the program listed in Start -> All Programs, etc., except you can restore leaving everything intact. One word of caution, if it's your first time installing the program and you didn't get tipped off on it from a trusted fellow-XPer, you might want to install using the defaults until you know the program is safe. If you use it and it turns out to be one of the utilities you just can't live without, you can always uninstall-reinstall later..."


2:53:38 PM    

 

Solution to "Cannot Simultaneously Use Multiple USB Scanners in Windows XP" Problem
Last week I shared with you a Microsoft Knowledge Base article which explained how two USB scanners are a no-no in Windows XP. Jack Campbell wrote in with a pretty cool workaround for this problem:

"I use 2 USB scanners (HP OfficeJet K80 & HP ScanJet 4470c) on my XP computer without having to unplug anything. I can use one scanner, then immediately use the other. But, I've added a USB2 card ($39) (to use a USB 2.0 60-gig drive kit for backups), and have the 4470 plugged into a spare port on the USB 2.0 card, and the K80 is plugged into the old USB 1.1 port that came with the computer. Works great"

It's also worthy to note that Wayne Lufts wrote in about a similar configuration and he's not having any problems with it either. So, if you're thinking about using two USB scanners, knock yourself out!


2:52:34 PM