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.