Thursday, December 07, 2006

Launch System Restore from a command prompt in Windows XP

It's not unusual to use System Restore to fix strange Windows XP system behavior—but depending on how damaged your system seems to be, you may need to call for more advanced measures. Here's how to launch System Restore from a command prompt.
If your Windows XP system begins acting strange, a typical fix is to use System Restore to remove any system changes made since the last time you created a Restore Point. However, what if the problem is so bad that you can't start Windows XP normally, or even start the system in Safe Mode?
The good news is you can run System Restore from a command prompt. Here's how:

  1. Restart your computer and press [F8] during the initial startup.
  2. When you see the Windows Advanced Options Menu, select the Safe Mode with a Command Prompt option.
  3. Select the Windows XP operating system.
  4. Log on to your computer with an administrator account or with an account that has administrator credentials.
  5. Type the following command at a command prompt:C:\windows\system32\restore\rstrui.exe

When you see the System Restore window, the graphics may look odd, but you can still follow the onscreen instructions to restore your computer to an earlier state.

Friday, December 01, 2006


Few days ago I received a video with some incredible balls flying around and hitting things and make beautiful music. I checked this out and it turned to be a piece of the song "Pipe Dreams" by Animusic. I do not want this to be a commercial to them, so I let you see them on YouTube. As I did not uploaded them and since I don't host them, I don't violate any copyrights (I hope)... Animusic is selling out 2 DVDs that supposed to contain the high quality versions plus more if you are interested. But since I don't want to give them free publicity, I will just provide the links to the collections bellow:

  1. Animusic 1 - 01 - Future Retro
  2. Animusic 1 - 02 - Stick Figures
  3. Animusic 1 - 03 - Aqua Harp
  4. Animusic 1 - 04 - Drum Machine
  5. Animusic 1 - 05 - Pipe Dream
  6. Animusic 1 - 06 - Acoustic Curves
  7. Animusic 1 - 07 - Harmonic Voltage
  8. Animusic 2 - 01 - Starship Groove
  9. Animusic 2 - 02 - Pogo Sticks
  10. Animusic 2 - 03 - Resonant Chamber
  11. Animusic 2 - 04 - Cathedral Pictures
  12. Animusic 2 - 05 - Pipe Dream 2
  13. Animusic 2 - 06 - Fiber Bundles
  14. Animusic 2 - 07 - Gyro Drums
  15. Animusic 2 - 08 - Heavy Light

I also found this one, but it is not part of the original DVDs:

  1. Animusic - More Bells And Whistles

I hope I have all the links right, but if I didn't please let me know...

Friday, November 17, 2006

Parked Domain, Reserved Domain...

You may have heard those terms before, but what do they mean? Let's see some terms:

  • Reserved Domain - is a domain that was purchased but was not set up. Those type of domains do not exist practically, but nobody can buy them any more.
  • Parked Domain - is a domain that exists only to be out on top of another one. Basically, when such domain is requested, the underlying hosting domain is returned. Parked domains usually do not have subdomains (except for the standard WWW one)
  • Active Domain - is a fully functional domain, it can have subdomains, mail servers etc.
  • Expired Domain - is a previously reserved, parked or active domain that has its registration expired and the registrar has locked it out until the owner pays again or until it will be erased. Usually the expired domains are used to give the owner a grace period to renew it.
  • Domain Lock - is a setting in the registrar database that prevents unauthorised changes to it. Only unlocked domains can be transferred from one registrar to another.

Hope some terms are not more clear...

Friday, November 03, 2006

Robots and Blogs

I just cannot pass this post... You know already that I have a profile on Technorati. Well... following the link to see who is linking to my blog, I've found this one: that is actually a collection of posts from other users. Somehow they crawl automatically for all posts containing the word "AdSense" in it.
I bet that after few hours this post is published, it will be shown in that blog. Good think is that they link to the original post, so giving this I cannot tell if this is a good or a bad thing. I actually don't mind yet about this because: (1) they link to my original posts and (2) they generate links to my blog and therefore traffic. And I didn't do anything for that, they found it on their own. I will keep monitoring the links and see if things go another way...

MSDN Briefing and SIAB in Brasov

Yesterday I've posted about day one in the article TechNet Briefing Brasov. Today was the second day from the Microsoft Days here in Brasov. This day was focusing on developers, so lots of code was shown. I will not reproduce it here, but I will go a little bit through the ideas there.
Basically it focused on .NET framework version 3.0. It should be called 2.1 or 2.5, but for marketing reasons at Microsoft it is called 3.0. Why? because we have this simple equation:
.NET 3.0 = .NET 2.0 (CLR 2.0) + WCF (Windows Communication Foundation) + WS (Windows Workflow Foundation) + WPF (Windows Presentation Foundation) + InfoCard.
So as you can see 3.0 is just 2.0 on steroids.
In short, WCF is a powerful communication layer which can use SOAP, web services, TCP/IP, .NET Remoting etc. to communicate between 2 endpoints (client and server usually). However, the big news is that you can change the underlying communication provider and hoster just by changing the config file. Neat, isn't it? It can also self-host the services, deploy over IIS etc. So, Microsoft took the best (or let's say major) standards and put them all together under one roof.
WS is an engine to work with and execute workflows. It supports both sequential and state-based workflows.
WPF is actually the known XAML.
InfoCard is something similar to the Microsoft Passport, but much, much evolved and quite different. The idea is that it is much more secured and easy to use, and it does not require (though it can use) a centralized provider like the Passport does.

Another discussion was about the new Office file formats, which are basically a ZIP archive containing XML files and any binary-format objects that are embedded (like pictures). It is also very extensible and pragmatically you have the sky as the limit.

Also some examples of how to develop Vista-friendly applications were shown, but I cannot reproduce the demos here.

The second part of the day focused on the same subjects but from an architect level...

Playing With AdSense Spam

First of all... this is not spam from Google or the official AdSense team. I went to one of those "Get rich with AdSense" sites I was talking about in my post "AdSense Heaven?" and put in my "name" and e-mail address. Actually instead of the name I put in "Ivebeenspamed" (that's "I've been spamed" if you missed it, I took the idea from The Noob Commic). Now of course... I receive spam from that site. Whatever they say it was free, with big text and lots of fuss, was actually a "sub product" of another big one. As I said... tricks to get your money.
Now that spam tries to sell me stuff and it is providing me with rubbish information that can, if I take it for granted, get me in trouble with AdSense. However, some of the "tips" got my attention because parts of them are quite true (I bolded the "true" part of then). However, do not take those for granted as tips! They are snippets from a junk mail! Here is the one that has the most truth in it:

2. Junk Sites Get Junk Income
Your site must have good content that can
attract users on its own merit. There are a lot of different strategies
available for producing good content for your site. You'll need to use them
if you want to create the sort of site that makes real money. Don't build junky sites, because they'll just bring you junky (meaning, "not very much")

Well... this is it. See how a spamer tricks users? They present to you half truth and whole lies...

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Technet Briefing Brasov

As promised I write about Microsoft Days in my town. I attended today the TechNet Briefing, but since I didn't have an available Internet connection I could not blog live. So, let's take it step by step.

First it started with a quick intro and then a local partner (no advertising here but they are called 2Net) had a speaker telling about his company. Direct advertising if you ask me. They offered keyboards to "key partners" as "presents". Go figure... but the list was 22 companies long.

Then the local communities were presented. I am a member of one of them, and they are quite legit, so I am glad that they were presented. I admit that Microsoft is still helping them with sponsorships and logistics, but what the heck, those are the local communities that use and promote their products. Without any other fuss, here they are: Ronua, ITBoard, SQLServer and ProFox.

The first TechNet presentation was about SBS 2003 R2 (Small Business Server 2003 R2). I'll
highlight what I think is interesting: it is based on Windows 2003 SP1 and not 2003 R2, it incorporates Exchange 2003 and Web Share Services. It comes in 2 flavours: Standard and Premium. The Premium version has as extra SQL Server 2005 Workgroup Edition, Internet and Security Acceleration (ISA) Server 2004 and Office FrontPage 2003. The rest is the same. The recommended prices are 606 USD and 1315 USD respectively.

The second presentation was about the security in Windows Vista. That was by far the most interesting presentation for me. They introduced with Vista the "Improved Security Development Cycle". This is a defensive programming technique that by design gets rid of the "standard" attack vectors like buffer overflow. It also means that the Microsoft Security Team has veto rights over it. In other words any security flaw will stop the product from being released. I am truly impressed about this.
Another security improvement is that services run with far less security privileges. This means that if a service is compromised by an attacker or a virus, it is restricted big time to what the service is allowed to do... mainly nothing. This comes handy with the next improvement: all windows services are profiled for allowed actions. In other words each service must declare upfront what they need to be allowed to do, like the list of files they need to write or computers they need to connect to. So? So considering the previous improvement, those two combined will constrain the malicious code as much as possible and the damage will be minimal.
They also introduced several run levels (0, 100, 200, 300, 400 and 500) where level 0 is fully restricted and level 500 is absolute power. Each level can write down and read up. They are not allowed to write data to an upper level. So if a process is running at level 300 (user context and user desktop) it will not affect anything on level 400 (services level) or 500 (admin level). This means that any user application cannot change the services and cannot change the system. Worst it can do is mess up the user documents.
Big deal is also that not even the administrators run with administrative privileges. What? Yup! you read right, and it is logical when you think about it. Most users are administrators on their machines which means that they can mess up the entire system by mistake or by means of a malicious program. When an administrative task needs to be done, the user is asked for explicit user permissions. This is done by a window that runs in level 500, which means that it can be interacted with only from the keyboard and/or the mouse. No application or service can access it since it is in an upper level (remember that the desktop is on level 300 and the services are on level 400). Of course that this behaviour can be disabled, but I don't recommend it. Actually the administrators have a split security token, one with regular user privileges and one with the admin ones but which is granted only after that "pesky level 500 window" (namely the user at the keyboard) is giving the OK. Also, if an application is known as malware, that level 500 window will have only... the Cancel button. Handy, isn't it?
The firewall got bidirectional in Vista. That means that rules can be defined for outgoing connections too, not only for the inbound ones. It also has direct, built-in, IPSEC supports.
There are many improvements too. I will mention just one more: The GINA is... gone!

The 3rd one was about deployment of Vista. Here I will not get in details at all.

The 4th presentation was about Exchange 2007. The bad news is that it works on 64-bit processors only. However it can be evaluated on 32-bits ones too.
It comes with 5 possible roles: Edge Transport, Hub Transport, Mailbox, Client Access and Unified messaging. The last 4 roles can be hosted by the same server. There are also 4 mailbox types: users, rooms, equipments and linked. I will not get in the details of those.
A big improvement is that users and groups can be created directly from the Exchange Management Console. Also the new Exchange Server Shell (a command line management console) can do everything the GUI can do (including deleting all mailboxes...)
Also, when Outlook Web Access (OWA) is used, all links to the local servers are identified and the documents they point to are accessible for the user from where ever he/she is, all this over Internet. OWA is implemented with the AJAX technology and it features auto complete and fast searches.

The day ended with an Q&A session. Now let's see the two events from tomorrow...

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Late and Working

... could describe what I am doing all day and night long. And this is the reason why I cannot write so often any more on the blog. Oh well, better fewer articles but with high quality than many and with poor quality. This post is one of the second category... I just wanted to let you know.

Anyway, this situation will not stay here for long (I hope... since I never know what tomorrow will bring).

On November 2nd and 3rd I will go to Microsoft Days here in my town. I will get back to this topic afterwards. If there will be an Internet connection available I will blog live.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

AdSense Heaven?

OK, some of you may already know about Google AdSense. Wow! What a great idea! Well... actually it really is. But there is a catch... You need to provide high quality content to your site so you can:

  1. generate more traffic on your site (more visitors)

  2. get higher CPC (Cost-Per-Click) ads on your site

1st will increase your CTR (Click-Through-Rate) on ads, therefore your revenues, and 2nd will increase the revenues per single clicks. Thus combined you can make a great deal of money just by running the site.
However, providing such site to the public is challenging. And don't cheat! Follow the TOS (Terms Of Service) "by the book" or you will for sure get banned.
There are a number of articles describing how you can optimize CTR by following some rules like:
  • positioning of ads on the page - there are researches that indicates the hot-spots for ad clicks

  • blending the ads into the page by manipulating the color scheme in which the ads are shown (such as the ones on my business site)

  • ... and not last, lots of experimenting

I suggest for a beginner to look first into the official Google AdSense FAQ and forums. They provide all those tips in details.
Now the "heaven" part... If you surf the Internet you will find lots of sites that sell you stuff for "increasing" the revenues on AdSense. Such "products" are:
  • books and articles, usually collections of how-tos (some of them refered as "the black book of AdSense", which show you all sorts of tricks that are in clear violation with TOS)

  • software for site promotion and monitoring (which may be violating the TOS, thus get you baned)

  • ready-made sites or site collections, "already optimized for AdSense" (which by the way, Google knows about and will eventually get you baned)

  • affiliate programs that will increase your site rank (which may for the moment, however Google is "hunting" those type of sites and... assigns them negative ranks, so in the end your rank is lowered)

And they are many more out there. They all look fancy and promising and most of all they look "fool-prof". This is not the case. There is no such thing as an "AdSense Heaven" coming from such products. Most of them have a single purpose: find fools to click on the ads in their pages and buy they products (all which will only generate revenues to the site owners, not to you). Google has all sorts of algorithms that raise red flags to the teams in certain cases, such as:
  • sudden increase of site traffic

  • spikes in CTR (normal variation is OK, spikes almost always raise red flags)

As my recommendation, read first the official AdSense forum. Look at others problems and transpose them in ideas and warnings for your own site. A red flag from Google is a very bad thing for your whole program. Better to avoid it.
And the golden rule is: do not spend time optimizing AdSense revenues, spend this time optimizing your site content, writing good quality articles and satisfying visitors/customers. Do not get blinded by the shining descriptions of whatever third parties. Chances is that if they are not listed by the official AdSense documentation they are in direct violation with TOS. Good quality sites generate in the end good quality ads, with high CPC and high CTR.
However! Some products may be 100% legit! So, do the necessary research before, and if in doubt mail Google or ask in the official AdSense forum. Better safe than sorry!

Monday, October 23, 2006

Google Toolbar Button Available

I've created a button for Google Toolbar. I've also put that to the button gallery, I wait for it to show up in there.
To install it just click here and it will install automatically.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

A Little Fun...

... does not hurt anyone ;) If you know what a MMORPG is, then you may want to read the 220 (and coming) episodes of the comic "The Noob" located at Once I've started, I could not stop reading... I staid up until over 2 AM to finish the story... Now that's a laugh...
And being a programmer I was thinking in making a 3d animation of the slides and publish the movie on YouTube, but the work involved is too much for me as I don't have the required time... Maybe someone else has it...

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Create Strong Passwords in XP

Here is an interesting article I've found on the net (on TechRepublic).
Computer users consistently use very simplistic logic when creating passwords. For example, many of us choose meaningful words, personal dates, or a word commonly found in the dictionary because it makes the password easy to remember. These common practices cause us to sacrifice the security that passwords are intended to provide.
If you're really at a loss when it comes to thinking of a strong password, you can let Windows XP create and assign a random password to your account. To let Windows XP generate your password, follow these steps. (Warning: Before you follow these steps, please be sure that you are paying careful attention and are ready to actually use a password that might not be as memorable as you're accustomed to! Also, you cannot use this tip on a Windows Server domain.)
Open a Command Prompt window and type:
net user user_name /random
Windows XP will randomly generate a secure password, as well as assign that strong password to your account. Windows XP will also display the strong password so you can remember it.
At your discretion, you may want to create a Password Reset Disk at this point. This disk will allow you to gain access to your computer in the event you forget your password. Here's how to create the disk:
Open the Control Panel and double-click the User Accounts tool. Click your account icon. Select Prevent A Forgotten Password under Related Tasks. Follow the instructions provided by the wizard.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Firefox and Unicode

Firefox (version at least) is sometimes really stupid...
- file 1, HTML, saved in UNICODE (FFFE marker)
- file 2, CSS, saved in plain ANSI
- file 3, JS #1, saved in plain ANSI
- file 4, JS #2, saved in UNICODE (FFFE marker)
What would happend in Firefox? It will apply the UNICODE encoding from the HTML file to... all of the 4 files, resulting in the CSS and the JS #1 to be garbage after such decoding and therefore not usable by Firefox. Only the JS #2 is decoded OK since it is in the same UNICODE encoding in the first place.
I've found this after hours of "stupid debugging" (== change the code just to see "what if", even when you know the outcome)... My resolution? Save the HTML file in plain ANSI and... voila! It works!
All this time, Internet Explorer worked OK...

Friday, October 13, 2006

Service Controller Control from Command Prompt

Again with XP commands... "sc" is a command line program used for communicating with the NT Service Controller and services.
Some commands based on sc are:
sc /query - displays the list of services and information about their state and flags
sc /queryex - displays the list of services and the extended information about their state and flags
sc /start service_name same as net start service_name; starts a service
Similar the /pause, /continue and /stop switches will pause, resume and stop a service
Now comes the interesting part...
sc /delete service_name deletes a service from registry
sc /create service_name creates a service into registry
To get extended help type sc at the command prompt...

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

System Information

In XP there is a nice utility called "winmsd" which is a handy system information tool... It provides a not-so-basic level hardware and software information. Of course it cannot compete with professional system information tools, but the provided information should be enough for a quick overview or diagnostics. And after all... it comes with XP...

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Kill Processes from Command Prompt

Yes, you can do that in Windows XP. The command for that is "tskill" (Terminal Services End Process Utility). For example:
tskill mspaint - will kill all Paint windows
tskill 1234 - will kill the specified process
The switch /v will output some extra information (verbose mode) like:
C:\WINDOWS\system32>tskill mspaint /v
End Process(208)
End Process(3656)

Now sky is the limit...
Note: it does not work in Windows 2000 and I didn't checked in Windows 2003. Let me know if it works on it and on Vista.

Update June, 24 2009

There is another tool as other have commented: taskkill. I have studied it a bit, and in turn it is much more complex than tskill. It can terminate processes on remote systems as well. Just type taskkill /? and read the help. To my example how to kill mspaint, here is the required syntax:

C:\>taskkill /im mspaint.exe
SUCCESS: The process "mspaint.exe" with PID 8836 has been terminated.
SUCCESS: The process "mspaint.exe" with PID 7612 has been terminated.
SUCCESS: The process "mspaint.exe" with PID 9036 has been terminated.

or if you know the process id:

C:\>taskkill /pid 7760
SUCCESS: The process with PID 7760 has been terminated.

For Windows 2000 users:

The techniques that I’ll be showing you involve using the TLIST and the KILL command. These commands are a part of the Windows Support Tools, which are not installed by default. Instead, these tools are kept on the Windows 2000 installation CD until you manually install them. Installing the support tools requires a little over 18 MB of hard disk space.To install the Windows Support Tools, log on as an administrator and insert your Windows 2000 installation CD. When you see the Windows 2000 splash screen, select the Browse This CD option. When the browse window opens, navigate through the CD’s directory to the \SUPPORT\TOOLS directory. Next, run the SETUP.EXE program.

With the support tools installed, without looking to Task Manager, a way of determining the process ID is by opening a Command Prompt window and entering the TLIST command.

The command line syntax of the KILL command is as follows:
KILL [-F] < >

As you’ve probably already figured out, the PID is the process ID and the pattern is the name of the process. Therefore, you can shut down a process by simply entering the KILL command followed by one of the two parameters. For example:

kill 2304

kill mspaint

The -F switch parameter will force a process to shut down. "Most of the time, you won’t want to use the -F switch. It’s intended for emergency use only." But that's the point right? To kill the process...

You can actually use the KILL command combined with the -F parameter to shut down critical systems services, thus resulting in the Blue Screen of Death. Coincidentally, several years ago I was at Microsoft’s TechEd conference, and one of the speakers had developed a virus based on the KILL -F command. He had used a common utility to create a service that issued the KILL -F command followed by the name of a critical system service. He then configured his service in a way that would cause it to load on startup. The result was that every time the machine would boot, it would instantly go to the Blue Screen of Death because he was killing a low level service. The only way that the speaker was able to undo the damage was to use ERD Commander to disable the virus service from outside of the operating system.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Fake Antispyware: SpySheriff

"SpySheriff is among the best-known rogue programs disguised as spyware protection. It might look like a useful security program but it actually isn't - it's typically pushed on systems through vulnerabilities, after which it reports nonexistent infections in order to scare you into registering the software for a cool $59.95 or so."
I don't recommend anybody to go and use this software, neither the antivirus companies like F-Secure.
So, please be careful of what programs you use. If you want antispyware software use consecrated names like:

Or any good antivirus with antispyware built-in. (this is not a full list, they are only examples)
Personally I use Spybot as resident protection and when in trouble all of the three. Why I don't use only one? Because there is no such thing as the best antivirus or antispyware software, there are only "the best ones" and sometimes you may need to use tools from different vendors to get rid of an unwanted infection. Overtime, they will add to their signatures for virus and spyware all known definitions, but viruses are simply one step ahead.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

You Want to Buy a New Computer?

... and you don't know what hardware it should contain? Well... here are some tips for you. This is not going to be a Brand X or Brand Y discussion. I will not cover laptops in this topic.

First of all answer the basic question: For what role I will use my computer? Workstation or Server? It is important to answer this because hardware requirements differs.

For workstations, answer this question: What I am going to do with it mostly? Play games? Use office applications? Surf the Internet? Create 3D graphics? Let's take them one by one.


  • It needs first of all the best processor + corresponding motherboard you can get. Games use the processor at its maximum. Also you may consider getting a better cooler than the one shipped by the processor manufacturer, since it will heat a lot (in games the processor usage does not drop under 100%).
  • Memory should be at least 1 GB (1024 KB) DDR2 in Dual Channel Mode (that means that you need 2 identical memory modules).
  • Hard drive should be a SATA one or an ATA 133 one (and the motherboard to support such transfers - many motherboards support only ATA 100). The capacity should be around 200 GB.
  • DVD ROM (or a DVD writer) drive as almost all games come on DVDs now.
  • 5.1 or better yet 7.1 Channels sound card and corresponding speakers.
  • A very good graphics card with at least 256 MB of video memory. Those come in 2 flavors: on AGP 8x bus or on PCIx16 bus. Nowadays, they come in pairs of 2 and use 2 PCIx16 slots.
  • Depending on the type of games you play, a joystick, a drive wheel and a better mouse (with a higher sensibility than usual models)
  • Also, if you play network games a Gigabit Ethernet would be usefull.
  • If you want a LCD monitor that goes with this configuration, you will need a verry good one with very low response time (<8>

This is not a cheap configuration at all! That's the price you pay for playing games...

Office applications: That's easy. All you need is a functional computer with about 256 or 512 MB of memory, 80 GB hard drive (any kind). No special requirements here, as the demands of such software are not high.

Surf the Internet: That's also easy. take the above configuration for office applications and add a broadband Internet connection to it (ADSL, Wireless, Cable TV etc.). You may also want to add more memory since you will need to be running a firewall and an antivirus at all time.

Create 3D graphics: Well, that it is an expensive configuration too. You need in this case a dual-processor system, 2 GB (2048 MB) of memory in dual channel mode, SCSI or SATA-2 hard drives. The monitor should be at least 19". From this you should start adding what you need for your particular case (like pen input devices).

That's for workstations... choose between the configurations before you buy. As you can see, you can easily be fooled by a shinny configuration, but if you don't need it why buy it?

For servers, the question is what type of server will it be? A file server? A database server? An Internet server?

For file servers, the processor is not important as well as the graphic card, but the following ones are:

  • 1 GB of DDR 2 memory (in dual channel mode) - as the unused memory is used as file cache, thus boosting the overall performance of the server.
  • SCSI interface with hardware-based RAID-5 capabilities, as you will need data protection.
  • At least 3 SCSI hard drives (so you can build the RAID-5), capacity should be over 200 GB.
  • Gigabit Ethernet controller.
  • A tape controller for backups.

Database servers need as many processors as you can give them plus 2 or 4 GB of DDR 2 memory (in dual channel mode) to help them out. You do not need RAID here but you do need SCSI hard drives with large capacity (as databases use lot of storage space) and a Gigabit Ethernet controller.

Internet servers do need about 1 GB of memory and a good firewall. Plain and simple. A Gigabit Ethernet controller may help. From this configuration add up what you need. For example if it runs lots of mailboxes, you need some extra hard drive space to store them.

I hope those pointers will help you decide what hardware you need for your future computers.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Spam Mails

One of my favorite subjects... spam! So, what are the top stories lately?

  1. Of course that everyone still sells me "viagra", "cielis" and dozen other drugs from whatever country online drug store at fantastic low prices... Wow! how lucky I must be... Subjects to those mails changed from PHARMA to MEDS with some random lowercase characters between those in uppercase like PHsdARMA or MEccaDS to make them look like a mail error, but in fact they do this on purpose to trick spam filters.
  2. Recently I started to win the UK lottery! Wow! 250.000 UK pounds! Gee! How Lucky I am... since I never played that (fake) lottery... Anyway they give me an explanation that they collected my e-mail address from public institutions... What real lottery does that?
  3. Another one is from PayPal (yeah, right!) which says that I just added an e-mail address to my PayPal account, they even give me that address which obviously is not mine, to panic me and make me click a "logon to PayPal link" and reject that mail. What will happen next? I just give them my PayPal account details so they can take it over! What they don't know is that PayPal does not work for Romania... ha ha ha... so I don't have such account.

That's this week top 3...

Sunday, September 24, 2006

What do Thiefs With Yahoo! Accounts?

Well... I saw several uses for the stolen accounts:

  1. Spam - usually, everyone who has an Yahoo! account also has an Yahoo! Mail account too (with the same user name and password - if the mail service is activated), so spammers can use those accounts to send spam mails. Who will be the responsible person for that? The owner of the account of course! By the time you prove that your account was stolen, you may already be in legal trouble (some countries send spammers to jail!).
  2. Advertising - the accounts are used to spam some instant messages to all contacts in the stolon account with various links to various sites, usually to steal more accounts.
  3. Scams - I actually saw a message from one of my IM contacts asking me to deposit 1$ in her phone number account (you can do such mobile phone transfers) because she needs to make an urgent call. No indication whatsoever of the reason she does not have any credit left or why she can't put it in herself. Actually the provided phone number wasn't ever hers.

Those are only 3 of the uses of the stolen accounts. Let me know if you know others...

Some of the thieves do not reset the password to those accounts, so the owner can still use it without any indication that someone else is also using the same account. I also know persons who have lost their accounts forever.

To protect yourself, change your password at regular intervals, and if you didn't changed your password in the last 3 months, it is about time to do so!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Troubleshoot Network Problems

If you want to diagnose network problems you usually start with ipconfig /all then you start ping-ing around. But next time try:
netsh diag ping adapter
This will start an automatic diagnose of all network adapters in the system. You can also test a specific adapter by using:
netsh diag ping adapter 1
Other helpfull commands are:

  • netsh diag connect mail - troubleshoots mail connection problems (using Outlook Express account settings).
  • netsh diag connect news - troubleshoots news connection problems (using Outlook Express account settings).
  • netsh diag connect ieproxy - troubleshoots proxy connection problems (using Internet Explorer settings.
  • netsh diag connect iphost server port (like netsh diag connect iphost 80) - troubleshoots connection problems with the specified server on the specified port.
  • netsh diag gui - displays a window from where you can do a full network diagnostic.
  • netsh diag show adapter - displays all of the Adapters.
  • netsh diag show all - displays all categories.
  • netsh diag show client - displays all network clients.
  • netsh diag show computer - displays computer information.
  • netsh diag show dhcp - displays the DHCP servers for each adapter.
  • netsh diag show dns - displays the DNS servers for each adapter.
  • netsh diag show gateway - displays the default gateway servers for each adapter.
  • netsh diag show ieproxy - displays Internet Explorer's server name and port number.
  • netsh diag show ip - displays the IP address for each adapter.
  • netsh diag show mail - displays the mail server name and port number.
  • netsh diag show modem - displays all modems.
  • netsh diag show news - displays the news server name and port number.
  • netsh diag show os - displays operating system information.
  • netsh diag show test - displays all categories and performs all tests.
  • netsh diag show version - displays the Windows and WMI version.
  • netsh diag show wins - displays the primary and secondary WINS servers for each adapter.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Where Does My EMail Go?

You send an e-mail and you don't know which server will receive it? Find it out from the commad prompt...
Step 1. Take the domain of the destination e-mail box. For example ==> "".
Step 2. Open a Command Prompt window.
Step 3. Run nslookup utility.
Step 4. Type "set type=mx" (without the quotes). This will set the tool too look for Mal eXchange entries.
Step 5. Type in the domain you found on step 1.
Step 6. Read the list of possible receivers. Note that the one with lowest "MX Preference" will be used first. If this fails to receive mails, the second one will be tried and so on (in the ascending order of preference).
Default Server:

> set type=mx

Non-authoritative answer: MX preference = 50, mail exchanger = MX preference = 50, mail exchanger = MX preference = 5, mail exchanger = MX preference = 10, mail exchanger = MX preference = 10, mail exchanger = nameserver = nameserver = nameserver = nameserver =

Note that entries with the same preference value will be used in a random order. As you see "" is the main (preferred) server for receiving the e-mails for GMail.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

One Surprise

I've promised a surprise... Here it is. Unfortunately it is for Romanian speakers only... sorry for the rest. I have one for you planned too... just wait few more days...

Surpriza se afla la adresa Distractie placuta!

Group Commands in Command Prompt

In command prompt it is possible to create a group of commands from the command line (not a batch file). This is useful for, among other things, copy&pasting scripts for testing without saving. To do this, just type "(" and hit enter, enter each command one by one (or paste a previously copied list of commands), then type ")" and hit enter.

Output for every command may also be redirected at the end of the block, in the same manner as Tip 7 on the Clever Tricks page: ") > log.txt" instead of just ")"

More? echo This is the first command
More? echo This is the second command
More? )
This is the first command
This is the second command

To log the result of several commands, a commonly used method is
command1 > log.txt
command2 >> log.txt
command3 >> log.txt
But grouping can be used to simplify the code:
) > log.txt

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Command Line Calculator

Do you know that you have a mini-calculator directly... in the command prompt. It is able to calculate expressions too. The trick is to use the SET command with the switch /a. The result is outputted to the console... See some examples:

SET /A 1+12
SET /A (10+20)*260
SET /A (10+20)*2^4720
SET /A (10+20)*2^4-(10*(2+3)*(2+9-1))220
SET /A 0XFF255
SET /A 0XFF+12267

(Tested on Windows XP)

Pause Replacement

Here it is a "pause" command replacement which waits for ENTER instead of any key. It uses SET /P:
SET /P =Press Enter to continue . . .
This trick uses the set feature "prompt for value" (/p) which will wait for a user given value, which is confirmed by pressing ENTER. However we don't specify a variable so we only wait for ENTER. Any other characters are printed on screen in the wait for ENTER.
However, we can also read the value in a variable like:
SET /P a=What is the value of a? a=
At the end the variable a will have the user-given value.

How to Remove Windows Genuine Advantage Notifications

I have found an article on the net...
"Windows genuine advantage notifications occur when your computer hasn't passed the validation test. The validation test can be failed due to being sold a pirated (non-genuine) copy of XP, or because you have changed your XP product key to a software-generated key. The failed validation installs three types of notifications on your computer: one on the log in screen, one log in timer, and one balloon. It also stops updates from Microsoft and disables your ability to install IE7 and Windows Media Player 11. This solution can get rid of all three notifications, even though you will still not be able to update. Unfortunately, you can only update if you buy a valid Microsoft product key again."

Read the full article at:

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Viruses and Spyware

Today I had to clean up a Windows system which crashed. Once I managed to start it up, surprise... lots of spyware was popping out with fake warnings of infections, messages that say that in order to remove the findings you should pay etc. So I started to hunt them down, remove startup applications from registry, etc. I managed also to uninstall some of them, but still big problems. Processes that were launching each other when killed... a total nightmare. So it was the time to bring up the power tools. I managed after several hours to get the Internet connection back up and running and I could download SpyBot Search and Destroy (from and install it. The resident component started to pop out and after several clicks I've managed to leave it on "auto kill" while meanwhile I have launched a full scan. After the scan come the cleanup (a long list of spyware and adware). A reboot was in order and I scheduled another startup scan to clean up the remaining pests. Finally it was stabilised. Next step was to take an online virus scan ( Surprise! Another 176 viruses!
That was pretty bad. But how did the system got in that mess? Well it is enough to get one pest and it will take care of downloading the rest... One mistake can mean a lot!
So what should you do?

  • never click on windows that say that you are or you may be infected with whatever virus or spyware or adware or whatever
  • use a good antivirus and keep it updated
  • turn on the firewall
  • use a browser protection tool such as SpyBot Search and Destroy or Lavasoft AdAware (
  • keep your system patched
  • document and educate yourself about safe Internet navigation so you can reduce the risk of being accidentally infected

That are some of the things, if I missed some, please tell me...

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Is Your .NET Code OK?

That's sometime a tricky question, but you have tools for answering this question. One of them is FxCop which performs a static analysis of your DLLs and EXEs. It will report you "stupid mistakes" as well as more serious ones. For example it warns you about wrong usage of constructors as well as potential numeric overflows.
However, don't take everything it says as the book-of-laws because it is not always right in its findings, actually for my code it warns me where it shouldn't. But... fortunately you can exclude the findings that are not correct with a simple right-click.
I would recommend you to download and run this tool over your code and take a look at the findings. You don't need to change your code, but the results are always interesting... my 2 cents...

Friday, September 08, 2006

Bad Day...

A friend of mine had a really bad day with his bike. He's a passionate biker btw...

"If you think you had a bad day, imagine please this:

  • 09:50 - going to work on my bike
  • 09:53 - jumping a kerb -> front wheel puncture
  • 11:12 - transporting the bike by myself (with 1 wheel in the air) to the service (2 km away - pretty close fortunately)
  • 17:40 - take bike (works perfectly)
  • 20:20 - returning home
  • 20:23 - crossing a medium-size hole in the road -> rear wheel puncture
  • 22:24 - looking at the bike, desperately trying to understand... WHY ME???"

Sorry my friend... sometimes it happens... I had a similar thing with my car... front wheel puncture -> replace with spare -> drive 100-200 meters -> same front wheel, another puncture... no more spares... all this on January 1st...

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Spam Anyone?

Ha ha ha! Today I decided to read one of the spam messages I received. I was bored, so I decided to take a look at the today spam and... surprise! The same old story!

"I am contacting you on business transfer of a huge sum of money from a deceased account. Though I know that a transaction of this magnitude Will make any one apprehensive and worried, but I am assuring you that All will be well at the end of the day. We decided to contact you due To the urgency of this transaction.
We discovered an abandoned sum of (Seven million five hundred thousand United States dollars) in an account that belongs to one of our foreign Customer who died along with his entire family.Since his death, none of His next-of-kin or relations has come forward To lay claims for this Money as the heir.
Yeah right! I wonder, is anyone that stupid or uninformed to fall for this scam? I receive this kind of "offers" for over 8 years... basically since the boom of the Internet. Strange is that the story does not change, only the sum... Someone rich died and you will help them intermediate the transaction which will end up with a million dollars in your account. In fact this scam will empty your bank account if you give them the information they request from you...
The next favorite subject is drugs... someone offers you drugs like viagra, ciellis or whatever they are called at extremely low prices. Another scam. You want drugs? go to your local (authorized) drug store.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

What Is Your Password?

Strange, but the easiest way to find out a password is to ask for it. That's how phishing sites steal your passwords, they put up a fake login and ask for credentials that are not theirs and users do fall for this trap.
Do your own experiment... ask your colleagues what passwords do they have... Invent a reason for asking, like "I come up with a good password, it is called 'super secured password'... ha ha ha... what password do you have? I bet that mine is better!"... and count the results...
I originally wanted to post a scenario that will guarantee you to find 99% of your colleagues passwords just by asking for them, but I won't... so don't ask.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Extend Laptops Battery Life

If you don't get the original instructions of your laptop or if you haven't read them, then here are few tips in order to extend your laptop's battery life:

  • At least once a month, disconnect the computer from a power source and operate it on battery power until the battery pack fully discharges
  • If you have extra battery packs, rotate their use
  • If you will not be using the system for an extended period, more than one month, remove the battery pack
  • Disconnect the AC adaptor when the battery is fully charged. Overcharging makes the battery hot and shortens life
  • If you are not going to use the computer for more than eight hours, disconnect the AC adaptor
  • Store spare battery packs in a cool dry place out of direct sunlight.

Basically don't keep it on AC power unless you need it. Here are the basic "I need it" scenarios:

  • You charge the battery... of course you need the AC power...
  • You want your battery fully charged in order to travel or go to a meeting
  • You are running power-intensive applications such as 3D games or CPU intensive applications - those dry the battery power fast

If you are operating on batteries, then those tips will help you keep the laptop running on batteries for a longer period:

  • Reduce screen brightness to a level that you can read the screen in good conditions; in low-light environments (such as evenings) you don't need too much back light (it is not good for your eyes either)
  • If you have a docking station at hand or at least an external monitor, keyboard and mouse use them and close the LID (watch out not to go in sleep mode when you do, check power settings)
  • If your manufacturer is providing you a power management software, use it

Sunday, September 03, 2006

ROSI's Activities Related to eLiberatica

I did not posted a lot about ROSI and eLiberatica, but trust me when I say that the things are moving forward. Members are promoting it all over the world and we gain lots of hits in the search engines:

  • Google: "Results 1 - 10 of about 18,200 for eliberatica. (0.08 seconds)"

  • Yahooo!: "1 - 10 of about 1,190 for eliberatica - 0.28 sec."

  • MSN: "Page 1 of 579 results containing eliberatica (0.15 seconds)"

... just to name few. So keep up the good work guys!
Anyway, behind the scenes the members are working on the conference and related activities probably more than ever...

The Freeware Section Is Up

I have posted today the freeware section on my site. More software will come, especially "The Bubble Game 2" which can either relax or annoy you to maximum ;)

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Lusu Web Solutions Is Online!

I am proud to announce that is online! I still have few pages to build, but it is open for business. And this is only the beginning. I have several sub-domains that I am preparing for you... stay tuned.
This is my business site, so I will keep as a personal web page for now. Probably in the future I will shut this one down and move to a sub domain of my business site. One thing is for sure though: this blog will stay up and running, I will not move it again.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Execute a Command Only If Connected To Internet

You may want to execute a (scheduled) command or a program only if your computer is connected to the Internet or if a specific server is online. You can do this with a simple batch file...

@echo off

ping /n 1| find "time="
if errorlevel 1 goto nonet

goto done

echo No network connection detected to my server, aborted.


I think that the code is self explanatory, but... First we ping the server and check if it is online and show a message if not. Then we carry out the operation and exit.
This type of batch file is ideal for scheduled jobs like scheduled updates or backups. You can also redirect the result of your job to a log file.
For example, here is a batch file that will manually update the virus definitions for F-Secure Internet Security 2006 and logs the result (it works, but it is just for demo purposes because it has a better, built-in, auto update feature):

@echo off

echo Scheduled update started %date% %time%... > log.txt
echo. >> log.txt

ping /n 1| find "time="
if errorlevel 1 goto nonet

ftp -i -n -s:ftp_commands.txt -w:102400 -A >> log.txt
fsupdate /s
echo Update finished, exit code %errorlevel%.
del fsupdate.exe
goto done

echo No connection to, update aborted. >> log.txt


You will also need a file called ftp_commands.txt in the same folder as the batch file with the following content:

cd /anti-virus/updates/
get fsupdate.exe

This file is used to send commands to the ftp utility so it will fetch the file fsupdate.exe automatically for you.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

New Yahoo! Accounts Phishing Sites

I have located new sites that steal your Yahoo! accounts. Please do not enter your credentials there!
Spaces were inserted for security reasons.

h t t p : / / w w w . g e o c i t i e s . c o m / lol_ just4 laughs . com2/
h t t p : / / w w w . g e o c i t i e s . c o m / lol_ just4 laughs . com3/
h t t p : / / w w w . g e o c i t i e s . c o m / lol_ just4 laughs . com4/
h t t p : / / w w w . g e o c i t i e s . c o m / lol_ just4 laughs . com5/

Finally I Got Rid of IE 7 Beta 2

That means that I managed to uninstall it. How? I installed Beta 2 on another system and copied the uninstall folder on my laptop. Then I could uninstall it from both systems. Now I could install RC1... yupee!

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Watch for Open Connections

Ever wondered what network connections your computer has open? Well... open a Command Prompt (I won't tell you how to do that) and type "netstat" (without quotes of course!) and take a look at the list (you are interested in the ones with "ESTABLISHED" status).
Next try some variations: "netstat -a" which will display all connections, open and listening too (listening connections are the ones that your computer will accept if someone else tries to access them). Add the "-n" parameter to skip resolving of host names and see the IPs instead like "netstat -n" or "netstat -a -n".
Type "netstat /?" to see a list of all available options.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Create Web Pages W3C Style

You want to create web pages? If you are not targeting a specific browser then you may want to make sure that your pages validate according to W3C. The validators are located at:
HTML validator:
CSS validator:

You can add those links to your page (if it is available on the Internet) to do an automatic validation of your page:

If the validation passes, W3C gives you some logos that you can add on your page.
Why is it important? If you pages pass W3C validation that means:

  • The page is written in portable HTML and/or CSS which works on most browsers

  • Putting the W3C logos on your valid page is a marker of quality

  • You look smart ;)

OK, I'm joking with the last one, but there are other benefits too, I let you discover them.
One more... using those validators you can find some very obscure but small mistakes so you can correct them.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Internet Explorer 7 RC1

Microsoft released the Release Candidate 1 of Internet Explorer 7. Unfortunately I cannot install it since I am stuck with beta 2 version (remember what I did to get stuck?)

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Find Out MAC Addresses, the Easy Way

When securing a (wireless) Windows network, in addition to using security protocols such as WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy) or WPA (Wi-Fi Protected Access) encryption, you can use Media Access Control (MAC) address filtering.
When MAC address filtering is enabled, the access point, router or firewall software verifies that the network card in the computer requesting access has a MAC address in its filter list before allowing or denying the computer to access the network. This means that you must first obtain the MAC addresses of each computer in that network in order to build that access list. To do so you don't ave to manually visit each computer and use the getmac or ipconfig /all commands. An easier way to gather MAC addresses is to take advantage of the ARP (Address Resolution Protocol) command. First, use the ping command to ping the computer you want to find out its MAC, then run (in a command prompt window) the command "arp –a" (without the quotes of course).
When used with the –a parameter, the ARP command displays the ARP cache, which stores the IP and MAC addresses of the computers that most recently accessed the system, or in this case, those computers that responded to the ping command.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Desktop Themes

Big things are spoken about the desktop themes in Windows, pros and cons.
Here are my 2 cents...

  1. Nicer looking desktops

  2. Modern looking windows and applications

That was it, not a long list, isn't it? Now the cons:

  1. Slows down the computer a little bit (not a big deal for modern computers, but still)

  2. Incompatible with some applications (I really hate those incompatibilities)

  3. Bigger borders, taskbars and windows (not a problem unless you are a developer like me and every pixel counts)

I also keep this one short. I am not against themes, but the first thing I do after I install the OS is to disable the themes service (actually set it to manual start) and change the desktop theme to "Windows Classic". So it looks like a good old days Windows 2000, so what? I like it. Plus no more conflicts and the system runs without being slowed down.
What you should do? It's completely up to you. However, use themes when:

  • The OS is not a server type one, but a workstation one (like Windows XP)

  • You do not care about the slowdown it introduces

  • You actually like them

  • Desktop space is not that important to you

Do not use them when:

  • The OS is a server type one (like Windows 2003)

  • You can notice an improvement in computer speed and response when the themes are off

  • You do need every pixel on the screen

  • You don't like them

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Sites are Down

The sites I have reported to Yahoo! in the post More Yahoo! Accounts Fishing Sites seams to be down. I also received several personalized messages from Yahoo! like thise one (preety automatic and by template, but they did the job):

Dear Leontin,

Thank you for writing to Yahoo! Geocities.

Thank you for informing us of possible abuse on Yahoo! GeoCities. We have investigated the site and taken the necessary action. We appreciate your concern and thank you for reporting this incident to Yahoo!.

Please continue to notify us of any content you believe violates the
GeoCities Terms of Service, located at:

Your Yahoo! ID and password are your own confidential information. No Yahoo! employee will ever ask you for your password or personal information in an unsolicited phone call or email message. If you are ever asked for your password in an unsolicited manner, or by someone youdo not believe to be a representative of Yahoo!, *do not* share your password with them.

For more helpful information on password scams as well as information on how to protect your password, visit:

For additional information on ways to protect your information online, please visit the Yahoo! Security Center at:

Thank you again for contacting Yahoo! Customer Care.


Xxxxxx Yyyyyyy
(name hidden)

Yahoo! Customer Care


Monday, August 21, 2006

Let Employees Surf From Work - They Make It Up

Here is an interesting post that I found on the net...
which points to another post to back up its claims:

Essentially he said "In the continuing debate over whether or not companies need to actively monitor and/or block employee surfing habits, there's always this assumption that any non-work activity done at the office must be "bad". This simply isn't true". Personally I totally agree since I see myself and my colleagues doing it...

Sunday, August 20, 2006

More Yahoo! Accounts Fishing Sites

I did my own little research and I've found the same pattern on several sites (DO NOT ENTER YOUR CREDENTIALS IN THOSE PAGES!):

w w w . g e o c i t i e s . c o m / lol_ funniest_ online_ humor. com_ 30/
w w w . g e o c i t i e s . c o m / lol_ funniest_ online_ humor. com_ 25/
w w w . g e o c i t i e s . c o m / lol_ funniest_ online_ humor. com_ 24/
w w w . g e o c i t i e s . c o m / lol_ funniest_ online_ humor. com_ 23/
w w w . g e o c i t i e s . c o m / lol_ funniest_ online_ humor. com_ 22/
w w w . g e o c i t i e s . c o m / lol_ funniest_ online_ humor. com_ 20/
w w w . g e o c i t i e s . c o m / lol_ funniest_ online_ humor. com_ 15/
w w w . g e o c i t i e s . c o m / lol_ funniest_ online_ humor. com_ 10/
w w w . g e o c i t i e s . c o m / lol_ funniest_ online_ humor. com_ 6/

As you see, there is a pattern. All sites are carbon-copy of the each other, so the same person or group is behind all of them. The e-mails behind those pages are different and some are repeating. I guess that at some point there were quite a bunch, but some were already shut down.
The sites and mail addresses were reported to Yahoo and Google.


w w w . g e o c i t i e s . c o m / lol_ funniest_ online_ humor. com_ 28/
w w w . g e o c i t i e s . c o m / lol_ funniest_ online_ humor. com_ 26/

(and probably more) are also online now. The mail addresses behind were already reported...

Another Yahoo! Account Thief

I don't know if it is the same thief or not, but I found another site that does the same thing.


List of password fishing sites I've found (spaces were inserted in the URLs for security reasons):

20 Aug. 2006: w w w . g e o c i t i e s . c o m / lol_ funniest_ online_ humor. com_ 21/
14 Aug. 2006: w w w . g e o c i t i e s . c o m / now_ thats _funny_ 203/

I already posted details of the previous site I've found (but that time I did not posted the URL for security reasons), and this one looks pretty much like a carbon copy.

Please be aware of such kind of sites that ask for your passwords, bank accounts and other personal data.

P.S. Yahoo! and Google have been notified about the abusers of their services.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

.NET and Read-only Text Fields

A note of caution to all .NET developers: if you change a read-only text field (with runat="server") with javascript on the browser, you will not see the change in the Text property after a postback. However the value is sent by the browser and it is present in the Request parameters. This does not apply if you change the value from the server side.
This caused me and my colleagues a lot of headaches.
To work around it you can use a the Request directly, ahidden field to double the value or, if you use inheritance, override the method LoadPostbackData with the following code:

protected override bool LoadPostData(
string postDataKey, NameValueCollection postCollection)
string text1 = this.Text;
string text2 = postCollection[postDataKey];
if (!text1.Equals(text2, StringComparison.Ordinal))
this.Text = text2;
return true;
return false;

If you are curious, use Lutz Roeder's .Net Reflector and take a look of the original implementation.

Friday, August 18, 2006

ROSI and eLiberatica are online!

Both sites are online now at:

I already posted about those two, so no more comments...

Windows and Hibernation

First of all what is it?
When Windows entrees in hibernation mode, it saves all its memory content in a file on the hard drive (hiberfil.sys) then powers the entire system off. Yes, it really does that, it is not a stand-by mode of some sort, it is fully powered off (however, modern computers still keep a small amount of power going on even in off mode, but that is by design). In this state you can unplug the computer from the main power supply and, if it is a laptop, you can also remove the battery with no danger in losing the data.
Data loss
There is no danger in losing any data since the memory is safely saved on the hard drive. However if something fails with the "wake up" from hibernation, Windows may delete the hibernation file and start all over.
Powering up
When the computer is powered on again, Windows reads the memory content back from the hard drive and resumes from the point it was before hibernation. This means that all open programs are still open, open documents are still open, network connections are resumed and so on.
What to do before hibernating your computer
First of all save all your open documents. It is not necessary to close them, but saving them ensures that if there is a problem with waking up from hibernation the documents are intact. However if you keep them unsaved, when you resume you can still save them safely in most of the cases. Second, ensure that you don't have downloads or file transfers in progress because all network connections are reset before hibernation and all transfers will fail on wake up.
Enabling hibernation
To enable or disable hibernation open Control Panel (Start > Settings > Control Panel) then go to Power Options. There open the "Hibernation" tab. If this tab is not visible then your computer does not support hibernation. In that tab make sure that the checkbox is checked to enable the hibernation or unchecked to disable it.
Hibernating the computer
Use the normal Start > Shut down... procedure and choose Hibernate from the list. If you are under XP and you have a shut down box with three buttons on it (Stand by, Turn off and Restart) press the Shift key and the Stand by button transforms into Hibernate and you can click it. You can also use the Power Options applet from Control Panel where in the Advanced tab you can choose what the computer should do when you press certain buttons or switches like "Power", "Sleep" or when you close the LID on your laptop.
The main advantage is that all your programs and documents stay open so you can continue your work later. Another advantage is that usually it takes less to wake up from hibernation than powering up from zero, especially if the computer is slow or you have many programs in the start up list.
The only disadvantage is that this way you don't shut down the computer for days, weeks or even months, so sometimes the system gets chocked and chocked and goes slower with no apparent reason. Some reboots now and then or normal shut downs are recommended. Also, a big file (hiberfil.sys) will be created on hard drive with the size equal to the ammount of memory you have (1 GB memory >> 1 GB file size).
If you want to use hibernation is up to you. I use it daily both on my laptop and on my desktop. For me is so simple to press the power switch (and close the LID on the laptop) then leave with my work "frozen in time"...

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Thiefs Stealing Yahoo! Accounts

This is a warning and a story in the same time...

The story... Yesterday I received a link via Yahoo! Messenger from a friend. So I clicked it. It supposed to be a funny picture and since I love to see funny things I went along. The site that opened looked exactly like Yahoo! Photos log-in page. A little bit strange, but it was hosted on Geocities which is an Yahoo! member. So I typed in the user name and password... Next I see again the log-in page with my user name read-only, this time the page was the legitimate Yahoo! Photos log-in page. That moment was just like a striking bold to me... So I went back to that page and viewed the source. Surprise! The page was mailing those credentials to a GMail account! Imagine my frustration in that moment as I should seen that before I entered the password! So the next move was to change the password for the account. Luckily it worked and I managed to keep the account. So the next move was to send a warning to Google, Yahoo! and F-Secure (see below why) and I sent a note in Romanian and English to all my Yahoo! contacts.

The warning... Please, pretty please... be very careful where you type in the credentials to your accounts, banks etc. and make sure that you actually use the right sites. Never ever follow links in e-mails that ask for bank credentials and be suspicious about the ones that want your site credentials.

The analysis of the page... Now I get technically. I used view source and looked at the <form> tag, here is the content of it:

<FORM METHOD="POST" ACTION="http://<a site address goes here>/form/mailto.cgi" ENCTYPE="x-www-form-urlencoded">

<INPUT TYPE="hidden" NAME="Mail_From" VALUE="Yahoo">

<INPUT TYPE="hidden" NAME="Mail_To" VALUE="<a mail account>">

<INPUT TYPE="hidden" NAME="Mail_Subject" VALUE="Yahoo id">

<INPUT TYPE="hidden" NAME="Next_Page" value="">

Look at it! The action for the page is a mailer CGI... that means that it actually mails the password to someone! Next you can see that it mails it to a GMail account with the subject "Yahoo id" and the mailer redirects you to Yahoo! Photos.

Looking at the hidden fields there you can see that the mailer is a public accessible one and not a custom made one. And since I could see what GMail account was used to receive it, I notified it to Google. The page is hosted on Yahoo! Geocities, so I notified Yahoo! to0. And since I am a "fan" of F-Secure products I also dropped them a note too.

So I really hope that the site from Geocities will be shut down as well as the mail account on Google too. Hopefully the owners of the abused accounts will perform criminal investigations and the thief will be caught and brought to justice... Am I too harsh with her/him? You judge and tell me...

Improve Windows NT/2000/XP/2003 Pagefile Speed

Improving pagefile speed improves system speed. There are several things that you can do to speed up Windows pagefile speed. Some may seam strange, but trust me...

  • Place the pagefile on the fastest hard drive you have

  • Set the minimum and maximum size to the same value, forget about those that say to set 500 MB min, 800 MB max

  • Even if the recommended size is 1.3 * RAM size, based on my experience 1024 MB (1 GB) is usually enough and big enough for any normal use; so set 1024 on min and max size fields

  • Make sure the hard drive with the pagefile is defragmented

  • Use pagedefrag to defragment your pagefile and other system-critical files

An idea to defragment your page file, that unfortunately involves several restarts is:

  1. Set pagefile min and max size to minimum (2 MB) or completely move it on another partition

  2. Defragment the partition that will held the pagefile (not the one you move it to) as good as you can; notice that Windows Defragmenter needs several runs to do a better job

  3. Set the pagefile size back to the desired size or move it back to the initial partition.

Steps 1 and 3 require a restart, but this is sometimes the only way to get an unfragmented pagefile.

Just starting

I just started to use this site as my primary blog. Previously I used Yahoo! 360 which is nice but it has limited functionality.
This blog will contain all kind of entries, each one with the apporpriate label.
I plan to start publishing tips&tricks and how-to entries that will make your life easier with the computers... I know that there are many that do that, but me is me and I will try...