Tuesday, August 31, 2004

USB Flash Drive + CD-RW Functionality

While researching whether I could make a USB flash drive autorun, I came across this from Hagiwara Sys-Com.

Pretty neat! When you insert it, you get 2 drive letters. One looks like your typical USB flash drive but the other looks like a CD drive. That means that Windows will look for an autorun.inf file and execute it. Think about that for a second.

I found it at MobilePlanet for $49.95 + $6.95 shipping. I may have to try one of these.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

How To Safely Store And Manage Passwords

I heard a scary story last night about a guy who had had his eBay and yahoo e-mail userids and passwords cracked. This sent me back on an old quest for a password manager. I ran across this article from Fred Langa and started chasing these programs.

As always, I went to sourceforge.net first. Here I found keepass. I installed it and played with it. It is nice but... You have to copy and paste the userid and password into each field. So I kept on looking.

Looking for how to autorun a USB flash drive (more on this later), I stumbled across KeyPass. This looks so much like keepass but... It has a scripting capability where you can define a hot key (default is CTRL + right click) in the userid field and it will type the userid and password and hit ENTER.

KeyPass is free for up to 10 userid/password combinations and CompUSA has it for $25.93.

I'm almost there. Now if I could just get my USB flash drive to autorun.

Saturday, August 28, 2004


Don't you wish you still had that old version of QuickTime that didn't have the nag screen? Now you can get it back. Just go to OldVersion.com and see if they have what you're looking for.

Friday, August 27, 2004

Maybe if I just keep my hands in my pockets...

...I won't be at risk for IE vulnerabilities like this. I wonder about something like SecuireIE (I know that's practically an oxymoron). I found this review. Kinda middle-of-the-road. Doesn't sound like $30 worth.

Internet Explorer has a number of security features that users can customize to protect themselves as they surf the Web. Unfortunately many, if not most, of these features are disabled by default and require the user to do some research and some clicking around to find what they need to configure them. Winferno SecureIE automates the default security settings and grants the user significantly easier access to customizing these features as they go. Blocking Pop-up ads, ActiveX scripts and such requires 5 to 10 different clicks in Internet Explorer. SecureIE lets you turn these functions on or off at the click of a button on the main screen. There are also other productivity features that make this a worthwhile product for many users.
Here's another review from PCWorld. Fairly positive. It mentions pluses like tabbed browsing and minuses like "browsing the Internet through a Word document."

I haven't taken this (right click and "Save Target as") apart but it seems to be some of what SecureIE has. The write-up is here. I don't know enough about the registry entries to comment. It has a lot of web sites hard-coded though.

PS. I went to look some more at www.secureie.com. You gotta wonder about an organization that has a link of "javascript:screenShot('secureie_shot_01.aspx', 'SecureIEShot1', 606, 781)." This gives you a window that is taller than a 1024x768 screen and doesn't have scroll bars. Use this link if you want to see the screen shot.

Friday, August 20, 2004

Infected in 20 minutes

The Register recently ran an article on how quickly a new PC will get infected when attached to the Internet. It's worth reading the whole thing but I'm going to excerpt some of it here.

Opinion What normally happens within twenty minutes? That's how long your average unprotected PC running Windows XP, fresh out of the box, will last once it's connected to the Internet.

Problems! Solutions?

The SANS Institute Internet Storm Center released those eye-opening numbers a few days ago. Go take a look at their graph, and you'll note that the current time of 20 minutes is half that of what it was a year ago, although, to be fair, the average has been both higher and lower - over an hour last Christmas and only about 15 minutes in the spring. That hour at Christmas seems like an aberration, and the overall trend has definitely been downward, towards far shorter times before your Windows box is not really yours any longer.

As the SANS Institute notes, 20 minutes is not long enough to update your Windows PC before it is too late. If you take a new PC out of the box, plug it in to the Internet, and power it on, most people (most people? OK - a lot of people. Uh, alright - some people. Erm ... *sigh*. A few people. Happy?) know enough to immediately hie thee over to Windows Update and get the latest patches from Microsoft. Then reboot. And get more patches. And reboot. Ad infinitum. Oh, and don't leave out the latest anti-virus updates either. Gotta have those. Oh oh oh - don't forget Windows XP Service Pack 2, the gotta-have update from Microsoft, which "may be as small as 70 megabytes (MB) or as large as 260 MB".

The SANS Institute tries to help by offering a free download of a great little 1.2 MB PDF wonderfully titled, "Windows XP: Surviving the First Day" (makes XP sound like a communicable disease, doesn't it?
Oh, if you run your PC behind a router/firewall, you've got until you open your first web page or html-enabled e-mail to get the patches on.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Go Phish!

Everytime I read something like this, I try to run Firefox again. That gives me fits. First, the google toolbar doesn't install. Yeah, Firefox has it's own version but it's pitiful compared to the real thing. blogger's wysiwyg editor doesn't work with Firefox. My company's Internet employee portal doesn't work. (This isn't really a problem with Firefox. The code just doesn't allow Firefox even though it works.) It goes without saying that Windows Update doesn't work. The web site I'm working on doesn't render the same with Firefox as IE. (Yes, I'm creating it with FrontPage.) The list goes on and on. Help, either in the product or on their web site, is non-existant. The forums are full of coders who wax on about coding but not about how to use the product.

Maybe someday...

Sunday, August 15, 2004

Wal-Mart - Your Technology Center?

Here's an interesting article: Technology Review: An Alternative to Windows (when you get the registration screen, revisit this).

It's fascinating. Not only is Linux competing for the consumer desktop but it's amazing how much technology is showing up in soccer mom kinds of places like Wal-Mart. Just yesterday, I needed (or thought I did) an S-video cable. So like I used to have to do, I went to Radio Shack. Their $20+ price for a Monster cable turned me off so I went literally next door to Wal-Mart. They had the same Monster brand (in less flashy packaging) for $12.

I thought Wal-Mart was going to take away the photo-finishing business from Walgreens but then Walgreens jumped ahead with the Fuji kiosk. This sweet little gadget is single-handedly going to kill film.

The ultimate proof of geekdom reaching the masses was a month or so ago when one of the consumer electronic stores (e.g. BestBuy, CompUSA) ran a NAS (Network Attached Storage) box in their weekly newspaper ad.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Praying mantises kill their mates after screwing them. Gates keeps them alive.

This is a very interesting article from wired. Like one of my ex-Microsoft friends said, "They don't call us the Evil Empire for nothing."

Sunday, August 08, 2004


Techbargains.com - If you haven't found this place you should. I'm very frugal. Ok, I'm cheap. I shop all the Sunday morning newspaper flyers for bargains even when I don't need anything. Today I was looking for an 802.11b networking kit for one of Sha's friends. I found this on techbargains.com.

While it's not free, $20 ain't bad.

While building my HTPC, I used techbargains.com to locate a DVD burner for $49 and an 802.11b USB adapter for $0.

It looks like this guy makes his money by setting up referrer accounts with the retailers. The link above uses a "jump" from his site. I presume that this logs the referral from his site TO the retailer's site and he gets some kind of cut from them. Who cares? We get the low price without having to crawl all over the web or get our fingers black from flipping through all those newspaper flyers!

Monday, August 02, 2004

HP Omnibook 300


I've always been a fan of ultra lightweight laptops. This started back in the early 1990s when I bought an HP Omnibook 300. This puppy weighed 3 pounds and ran the new Windows 3.1 and Microsoft Office. It ran a 386SX in real mode, i.e. it didn't use a page file. Windows ran on top of a hacked version of MS-DOS 5 with an early copy of DriveSpace (from MS-DOS 6) which doubled the usable space of the 40 MB (yes, that's not a typo) hard drive. The good news was that none of that 40 MB was used for operating system or application. The operating system and Office were on a 10 MB execute-in-place flash card.

It used a 640x480 monochrome screen and had an open PCMCIA slot for a modem or NIC. It was "instant on" in that it worked much like Windows 2000/XP's hibernate/resume except it didn't dump to the hard drive. Click, it's on. Click, it's off. It had a cute little mouse that popped out on a stick from the side. The battery life was 5+ hours. I could run mine 2 days before charging.

HP's retrospective on it is here.

I went on to IBM ThinkPads including a 560, a 240, a 600, and most recently my beloved X20. My recent company issued laptop from Texas doesn't hold a candle to the ThinkPads. At home, I'm pure ThinkPads with an inventory of 2 760s, 3 600s, and a T20.