Monday, April 30, 2007

Shaken, not Stirred

As is often the case, sometimes "real life" must take precedence over my blogging desires.

Been a busy, nay, a hectic weekend.

So my desire to explain the ReadyBoost post must wait a day longer.

So for now...Link Post time!

Network Nuggets Revisited

A bit ago I made the Free Network Utility Nuggets post.

I mentioned that there were some things I was forgetting, but would have to get back with.

Essential NetTools (trialware/$) - Rarely do I feel the need to post to a trialware/paid version of software. There are just so many good applications that are offered as freeware. However, TamoSoft's Essential NetTools is just too good an application not to mention. It really is like having a Swiss army knife of network tools. Consider all the features in this single program: NetStat (to monitor your computer's network statistics, ports and traffic, ProcMon to monitor system processes, TraceRoute and Ping, PortScan (to look for open network ports), NSLookup (to covert IP addresses to host names), NBScan (NetBIOS scaner), RawSocket, Shares, NetAudit, SNMPAudit, SysFiles, and finally, report generation in several formats.

Wow. And all this for under $30.00. I have found it to run quite well off a USB stick. Nice!

Wireshark Windows U3 Package (freeware) - Wireshark is a network traffic sniffer. As I mentioned before, there is an (older) portable version of Ethereal out there, but I missed pointing out that the updated Wireshark version has a portable (experimental) version. I'm not really into this U3 business. So just download the file, rename it's .u3p extension to .zip and then unzip it. Copy the extracted files to a USB stick and see how it runs.

New OpenDNS Feature Revolutionizes the Net - I've been a rabid convert to OpenDNS for a while now. I liked it so much that I made the DNS setting changes directly into my router so all our systems use it automatically. Paul Stamatiou posted a great review of a new free service provided by OpenDNS--Shortcuts. Basically shortcuts allow you to type a keyword into your browser URL address bar and that takes you directly to your page. Kinda like bookmarks but for the URL bar itself. The only requirements are that you need to be using OpenDNS and have created a free account. Configuration is easy. I haven't had time to get working on this, but I can see how this would be nice, especially since advanced parametered shortcuts can also be created.

Internet Connectivity Evaluation Tool for Vista & XP - Donna's SecurityFlash - This free tool from Microsoft runs on Vista or XP and can test your home network's router to see if it supports some advanced networking features. Microsoft Download page. Screenshots.

TCP Optimizer (freeware) - This network connection optimizer tool promises to analyze and tweak your system's network connectivity settings to optimize your network performance. FreewareGenius has a short and sweet positive review, and the Lifehacker gang liked its results as well. Take a look at TCP Optimizer's FAQ or extensive Help page and see if it is worth trying out. Been to busy to run it yet on my XP systems, but I am going to give it a go by the weekend. I'll let you know what I think personally then.

Vista does some TCP/IP autotuning on its own. However, if you need to do some manual tweaking, here is a post on how to turn that feature off and on: How to disable Windows Vista TCP/IP autotuning.

For a great tech-headed link source regarding networking in Vista, head over to the Microsoft TechNet page on Windows Vista Networking. Lots of good stuff in there.

Japanese Woodwork PC Cases

I have always loved traditional Japanese woodworking and joinery designs. There is something very efficient yet graceful in the construction.

Here are two stunning pc case mods you might be interested in if you like custom cases or woodworking:

Incredible “Yuugou” Case Mod

"Sangaku" Japanese Case Mod - look closely for the next page link. Has more construction pictures than a Norm Abram episode of New Yankee Workshop.

Simply beautiful.

Useful Thunderbird Extensions

While I use quite a few Add-on extensions in Firefox. I use very few in the Mozilla email client Thunderbird. It is quite close to perfectly matching my email client needs.

Ryan over at CyberTech News posted a roundup of ten of his favs for Thunderbird. While I already used one, and did adopt a 2nd with joy, the rest could be quite useful for Thunderbird power-users or those wanting to add a bit more functionality to Thunderbird.

My two favorite Thunderbird Add-ons are Lightning which is a calendaring application much like Outlook, and MinimizeToTray which sends Thunderbird to the system tray icon location instead of the Task Bar when minimized..just like I have my Outlook set to do at work. Brilliant!

Check out Ryan's List for all the goodies. You might like some of his other recommendations.

Underground Goodies

When we were growing up, vacation travels almost always meant a visit to any caves we passed by. They are very mysterious and beautiful locations. Maybe that's why I'm always intrigued when some new archeological discovery or hidden treasure is located underground. It appeals to the adventurous kid in me.

BLDBLG has a great and fascinating post on Tunnels, mines, and the "upwardly migrating void" with visits to the Hanover Chalk mines and the Scotland Street Tunnel in Edinburgh. Lots of great pictures.

I saw that tomorrow night, the History Channel is also getting into the underground scene with a new series Cities of the Underworld. It also looks fascinating, so I have to get home in time to catch the first episode of this series. (Maybe my Vista post will have to wait a bit longer...)

Even more neat things at Subterranea Brittanica

Holy ISO Trinity

I have to deal with and manage creating and archiving CD and DVD media at work for our group. Instead of keeping a disk organizer on my desk with masters for copy-to-copy duplications (and watching them disappear) I keep ISO copies on a workstation and then just burn them on demand.

In the process I've obtained quite a collection of tools to help me create and burn ISOs. There are a lot of awesome tools I have to handle these tasks, but these three freeware offerings are the Holy Trinity I use. Tiny, fast and function focused.

Need to make a copy of a disk? Use LC ISO Creator.

Need to turn a set of folders into an ISO? Use Folder2Iso.

Need to burn an ISO to CD/DVD media? Use TeraByteUnlimited's BurnCDCC.

If you need some tools with a bit more "beef" for burning or ISO work here are some additional freeware utilities. ImgBurn for advanced disk burning setting control and IsoBuster for advanced CD/DVD file recovery, ISO creation, disk/ISO structure review, and the list goes on....

KeePass Versus KeePass

KeePass is the encrypted password manager of choice for me. I love it. It is tiny, portable, and brilliantly designed and 100% freeware. Version 1.07 has just been released, but so has 2.02 Alpha.

Here is a great feature comparison between the current 1.xx versions and the 2.xx builds.

Highlights in 2.xx: support for older OS's will be dropped for 2000/XP/Vista now. It will require .Net Framework of 2.0 or better. It drops "twofish" encryption but adds compression support and XML inner formatting. It will support the Windows User Account as a Key source, allow for custom string fields for individual entries, importation of external icons, and keep an entry history. There are many more additional features coming in 2.xx as well. See the link for more information.

Security Bits

SANS-ISC handlers recently posted a great "Follow the Bouncing Malware" series addition: Day of the Jackal. In it we see how following what appears to be an innocent email link gets a world of malware hurt going on a pc. I really look forward to these posts and always learn something new to be aware of in my own malware hunting drills at work.

Comodo has opened up their newly purchased BOClean product for free download and usage. BOClean has had a long and strongly supported following in the anti-malware/anti-trojan product circles. Its fans are many. I haven't had the chance to try it out, but am looking forward to playing around with it. This previously established anti-malware product joins their growing stable of freeware security products like their firewall, anti-virus and free (for personal use) secure email certificate issuance.

Although currently offered for XP/2000 system support, Donna's Security Flash has a great post that explains that it can run quite successfully on a Vista system as well, so long as you know the following installation trick:

"In order to properly install the COMODO BOClean 4.23 onto a Vista machine, you *MUST* right click on the downloaded setup programme and select "Run as administrator" to install it properly."


Feels good to get all those links off my chest an onto yours!

See you in the skies.


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