Monday, April 28, 2008

Free Virtual Drive software for CD's and DVD's

Have you ever wanted to read a .iso file but didn't want to take the time to burn it to a CD or DVD. Well I have had a pay for program that does that for a few years but today Ask the Admin pointed me to a free program call Virtual Clone Drive from Elaborate Bytes (i.e. elby). In addition I installed VCD (Virtual Clone Drive) on my Vista machine and it works although the elby website does not specifically state that Vista is supported. Anyway this will save me from having to pay for the upgrade to my existing program in order to get Vista support. In addition to mounting .iso files VCD will also let you mount .img, .ccd, .dvd, .udf and .bin files. Also VCD seems to be actively supported based on the Version number of which is the current version with a date of 4/10/08.

One word of caution that was pointed out on Ask the Admin if you plan to reinstall VCD as it is updated make sure you uninstall it first and I would also recommend a reboot or else you will receive repeated BSODs, I guessing someone learned that the hard way.

Thanks Ask the Admin for saving me a few bucks and helping me avoid the repeated BSODs in the future that's assuming I remember and don't get in a hurry.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Good News Network

If your tired of all the bad news with which we are constantly bombarded then give the Good News Network a try.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Top Open Source Security Tools

If your a fan of Open Source tools and software then you might want to check out this years list of Top Open Source Security Tools put together by Cynthia Harvey over at eSecurity This list has her choices for the Top 75 Security Tools covering Anti-virus, Encryption, File Transfer, Firewalls, Forensics, Security Suites, Intrusion Detection, Log Analyzers, Network Monitoring, Password Management, Remote Administration, System Admin Tools, User Authentication and VPN Tools. One area not covered by this list is wireless security and I'm sure there are other Open Source Security tools but it's always nice to see a list like this to see what you might not be aware of. If you have a favorite security tool that didn't make this list leave a comment I'm always on the lookout for security tools.

As far as 2007 and previous years I have not been able to find anyone consistently doing an annual list of Top Open Source Security Tools but following are 2 different sources of Top Open Source Security Tools from past years.

For 2007 there is this list from Network Security Journal - Top 105 Open Source Security Tools and this list does include a section on wireless.

Then for 2006 and a few previous years produced the Top 100 Security Tools.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

College students and Tax rebate

Well thankfully my taxes are done for another year. But in the process of doing my taxes with Turbo Tax it shows you the amount you can expect to receive from the US Govt. economic stimulus payments. Well guess what your children in college don't qualify since they are 17 or older. But in addition when I worked on taxes for my college age children who earned just enough to qualify earnings wise for the economic stimulus payments, guess what they didn't qualify since they can be claimed on a parents tax return.

Someone please explain why college students don't qualify on their own or under their parents. Does someone think parents of college students couldn't use some extra money or does someone think college students have lots money, well they are wrong in both cases.

This just makes no sense to me why are college students and parents of college students penalized, someone please explain this to me.

Oh and one more point what is magic about age 17, are children suppose to be out on their own, WRONG AGAIN usually they are in the last year or two of high school. So why once again do tax credits disappear for children at age 17?

Well now that I have vented about this I will get back to my normal posts, but please comment if you have some thoughts on this subject or you would just like to rant about this yourself.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Scrum it is, so what are the odds

Looks like Larry at ZDNet likes my pick for the sport so Microhoo scrum it is. So that gives us a name for this match. Now I just need some artistic talent to do justice to a good cover for the scorecard. Should we pick colors for the teams, who is the home team. Let's have some fun with this.

As far as odds go I've had no luck finding any listing on that from the betting parlors. I've heard you can get odds on most anything in Vegas, let me know if you find odds posted. The best I've been able to find on odds is this post from MSN Money saying the probability is 55% that Microsoft will win. Longer term and for the really big money what are the odds Microhoo will win against Google and which stock should you buy.


Google plans for bigger role in Microhoo scrum by ZDNet's Larry Dignan -- Google has hired Frank Quattrone, a long-time Silicon Valley investment banker, and his firm Qatalyst as an adviser. Hiring Quattrone indicates that Google has no plans to let go quietly as Microsoft makes its play for Yahoo. According to the New York Times’ DealBook blog, Google has retained Quattrone’s services. Quattrone, a controversial figure, recently launched [...]

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Yahoo going critical

Couldn't resist forwarding the post below from ZDNet, the title caught my eye immediately. If you need a tech soap opera to watch or will this be a drama to entertain you this year then stay tuned, Yahoo, Microsoft and Google are continuing to write the script. Then as I'm writing this post I see this from GigaOm which calls the Yahoo deal with Google "Sleeping with the Enemy", ah the headlines. Oh and the cast of characters is growing according to the GigaOm article now AOL is in the mix. Definitely going to need a scorecard to keep track of the players in this ballgame. Another update now Microsoft is trying to work a deal with News Corp.. Also let's not forget another interested player who may join the mix DOJ or at least Microsoft is bringing up antitrust ramifications, how ironic. So place your bets on who is going to win, is anyone giving odds on who will win this I wonder.

Pass on your favorite headline for the Yahoo, Microsoft, Google, AOL, News Corp. scrum.

(pictures courtesy Wikipedia)

Yahoo goes nuclear vs. Microsoft: Inks limited Google ad deal; Microsoft fires back by ZDNet's Larry Dignan -- Update: Yahoo hit that big red button that could nuke any potential merger with Microsoft (or at least raise the price): An ad deal with Google. As first reported in The Wall Street Journal, Yahoo has launched plans to carry search advertising from Google. The move is a “test” at this point, but could evolve into [...]

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Google Application Engine vs. Amazon Web Services

Well AWS (Amazon Web Services) with a reported 330,000 developers now has significant new competition from the just announced Google Application Engine. Google's new cloud computing service went into limited beta on Monday and was opened to the first 10,000 users to sign up based on the post in the Google App Engine blog. It appears those 10,000 slots have already been taken since when I tried to sign up I received a message saying I would be added to the waiting list. Google's App Engine beta which I assume will turn into the base level service once the service opens to more widespread use will most likely be free based on Google's past performance. So what is Google offering users well here are some of the details on the capacities offered to the beta users - 3 applications, 500 MB of storage/application, 200 million CPU megacycles/day and 10GB of bandwidth each for in and out per day, which is suppose to equate to roughly 5 million page views per month. Amazon Web Services on the other hand has charges for storage, various service requests and bandwidth just like other hosted solution and currently no base level free service. So the question is will Amazon be forced to offer a free base level service to compete with Google or do the 330,000 current Amazon developers represent a large enough mass with enough momentum to keep Amazon from having to offer a free version, it will be interesting to see what happens.

In the mean time AWS is already hosting well known services or parts of those services such as Twitter, 37signals, Smugmug, Elephant Drive and Facebook Apps. So if AWS is something you want to consider further along with joining the ranks of the many AWS developers checkout the following -

AWS Developer Connection
AWS Blog

In addition O'Reilly just published Programming Amazon Web Services if you're really interested in getting into AWS.

Since Google just announced their service the documentation is currently only offered online. In addition Google has an application gallery for some of the applications that have already been created.

As far as programming options AWS supports C#, Java, PHP and Ruby while Google only supports Python at this time. So if Google App Engine intends to compete head on with AWS it would seem that Google will need to broaden their supported programming options in the future. But is Google really interested in competing head with Amazon I'm not so sure of that. Also due to Google's infrastructure and how they build applications they may want to focus on only supplying the limited Python interface.

One other point of interest, if this does turn into true head on competition between Amazon and Google, will Google in particular have to reveal more about their infrastructure to satisfy prospective customers due diligence needs as they decide which service to use, at some point you would think so.

In the meantime tell me what you think about Amazon Web Services if you already use them. Same for the Google Application Engine if you were lucky enough to get in as part of the initial beta group. Or is there another service you think is superior. Do you think Yahoo and Microsoft will expand Office Live Workspaces in order to more fully compete in the cloud computing arena.

Friday, April 04, 2008

New tool cracks enterprise wireless LANs

I am hoping the article noted below from ZDNet is wrong and only 50% of companies are vulnerable. But when you consider how prevalent wireless LANs are in most companies I'm sure I don't want to know the percentages of companies that are vulnerable. So if have a wireless LAN at your company you should check out the following article and if your not the network admin get your admin to review and implement the changes if possible. One problem that is pointed out in this article is that Apple machines can not be configured to prevent the problem. Because as I pointed out yesterday Apples market share is increasing and even if that was not the case most companies have always had a few Macs somewhere in the company and you can bet Mac users want to be on the wireless LAN too.

Also something to keep in mind you don't want your company to repeat what happened at T. J. Maxx last year.

New tool cracks most enterprise wireless LANs by ZDNet's George Ou -- If your company or organization runs an enterprise wireless LAN network, I have some troubling news for you. Odds are high that your current “enterprise-class” wireless LAN deployment is vulnerable to authentication leakage which not only exposes your internal network but all of your server access controls. You can use all the strongest authentication protocols such [...]

Thursday, April 03, 2008

PWN2OWN - Apple is now the target

Apple Macs have in the past been perceived as more secure than Microsoft Windows systems and depending on what you read and who did the tests you might have been able to make that argument. Well I think the PWN2OWN contest from CanSecWest last week and last years month of Apple exploits shows that Mac owners just like Windows owners need to keep their systems current on patches. Also with Apples increased market share the size of the bullseye on Apple is growing. The problem I think for Apple is first having to admit their systems need frequent patching just like Windows machines. But a bigger problem for Apple and Microsoft users in general is finding out about patches and then the real killer is getting people to take the time to install the patches once they are aware of them. For Microsoft products you have the Microsoft Update tool which helps users find and if you let it automatically install patches. But the problem is your average Windows machine has lots of other non-Microsoft software on it and Microsoft Update does little to help you with non-Microsoft software. So here is where a free tool that is currently in beta from Secunia called PSI (Personal Software Inspector) helps you find most of your unpatched software. PSI continually scans your Windows PC for installed software and then lets you know if patches are needed and where you can download the patches from, no it will not automatically install patches and probably never will . Now if Microsoft and Secunia would just team up and make PSI part of Microsoft Update so that all Windows users would be more aware of the all the needed patches that would be progress. For Apple owners tools that accomplish what PSI does are also needed and hopefully are a priority for Apple. Overall both Apple and Microsoft need to keep improving their patch management tools so users can easily keep all of their software patched not just the software from the OS vendor. Also scanning for patches needs to be a free tool that is part of the OS, not another paid subscription tool like anti-virus, anti-spyware, etc.. Otherwise most users will not take the time to install a free tool and forget it if you expect most consumers to spend money for a patch management tool.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Gmail Custom Time

In case you haven't seen this Gmail announced a new feature today called Custom Time check it out here.