Saturday, January 31, 2009

Double-On Call Duty Linkpost

Yep.  Saturday.  Been a very long week at work with our crack IT team presented with some very challenging system failures, office moves, and ongoing project management.

One of those herding-cats kind of weeks.

This weekend there is a big server migration project and a few very dedicated individuals from our team are guiding the transition on our systems.  Meanwhile the rest of us are on-call over the weekend to respond to local sites if something tanks.  So far, so good.  But having my work systems up all weekend and all the team-leadership engaged has still meant a larger than normal flurry of emails and other-project communications for me. Thus my first on-call duty.

Meanwhile, Lavie has found a hidden reserve of energy and has decided to plan for a rearrangement of the family-room furniture.  So I’ve been happy to provide logistical support for this duty as well.

So while I work double-duty, kick back and raise one for Claus and take a look at this miscellaneous linkage.

Utilities and such

  • PeaZip - (freeware) – Updated to v2.5 this version incorporates a number of optimizations, GUI updates, OS interaction tweaks and other refinements.  There are lots of compressed file managers and I really like this one.  PeaZip also supports the 7-Zip compression format.  For another compatible tool that has a much easier to use interface than 7-Zip, check out jZip as well.

  • NirBlog: Utilities update for 25/01/2009 – Nir Sofer lists the latest tweaks to his awesome tools.

  • RegScanner -  (freeware) – Updated to version 1.75. “RegScanner is a small utility that allows you to scan the Registry, find the desired Registry values that match to the specified search criteria, and display them in one list.” This version adds a new option that shows found items during the scan process.

  • SysExporter - (freeware) – Updated to version 1.50. “SysExporter utility allows you to grab the data stored in standard list-views, tree-views, list boxes, combo boxes, text-boxes, and WebBrowser/HTML controls from almost any application running on your system, and export it to text, HTML or XML file.” This really helps me extract data and information from error boxes or other special window notifications. This version adds the ability to “…locate the desired window simply by dragging the target icon from the SysExporter toolbar into the window that you need to grab the data.”

  • CurrPorts -   (freeware) – Updated to version 1.60. “CurrPorts displays the list of all currently opened TCP/IP and UDP ports on your local computer.” This version adds three new features:
    • Added new column: Window Title (The window title of the process)
    • Added 'Clear All Filters' option.
    • Added 'Include Selected Processes In Filters' option. Allows you to easily filter by selected processes.

  • PasswordFox - (freeware) – Updated to version 1.11. “PasswordFox is a small password recovery tool that allows you to view the user names and passwords stored by Mozilla Firefox Web browser.”  Adds a new option in “…'Select Folders' dialog-box: Remember the folder settings in the next time that you use PasswordFox.”

  • Download ATI Catalyst Drivers 9.1 XP - FileHippo.com – Ah yes, the never ending march of updating the video drivers of a system continues.

  • CrunchBang Linux – I have to confess.  With all the WinPE work I’ve been doing, it has been almost a year since I’ve spend any amount of time working with a desktop-Linux system or LiveCD.  I still reach and use some forensics-specific Linux LiveCD’s but my days of fiddling with DamnSmallLinux or Knoppix have been far and few between.  So the stripped down and light look of this implementation looks pretty nice and attractive to me.

  • A Portable Remote Desktop Connection (mstsc.exe) - the back room tech blog – Julie saw my post about making a portable version of Windows Remote Desktop.  I found it interesting but not practical for my daily remote needs.  Leave it to the ever-clever Julie to find a deployment scenario that makes wonderful use of this trick.

Browser Bits

  • Firefox Showcase – Mozilla Add-ons. This week I was having to monitor multiple network traffic graphs and Firefox doesn’t allow you to do side-by-side windows in a single browser session.  I had used and liked Viamatic foXpose but it isn’t compatible with FF3.x and development appears dead for now.  So I did some searching and found Firefox Showcase.  It has lots of great features.  Besides allowing for display of open tabbed windows in a single view, any of those “thumbnails” can be refreshed or browsed accordingly.  It also supports placement of the tab “thumbnail” views in a sidebar, much like Tab Sidebar. However, Firefox Showcase provides many more features.  Lots of options!  Check it out.

  • Convenience is number one factor in keeping browsers secure - Ars Technica – Information from a limited sample set still provides some neat thoughts.  Firefox seems to be the most quickly updated web-browser by it’s users.  Here’s my thought.  Firefox has an internal self-checking updater. If enabled, as soon as updates are offered and found, the user has the chance to update. Opera’s latest release versions look to now do the same.  Internet Explorer users have to wait for IE to be updated as part of Windows Update policy settings or manual checks via the OS.  Updating will then be much less frequent or used in this case.  I’m not even sure how Apple’s Safari browser updating process works.  Does it “phone-home” for update checks? Is there an internal (manual) way to check for available updates?  Only times I have seen it updated is when I do a seed-version update or it is offered via a Quicktime/iTunes Apple-Software updater utility run.  Chrome at least has an Update version feature that also works automatically (or manually) to protect the user, similar to Firefox. I agree that the easier the developers make a browser to automatically update itself, the more secure it will be for the end-user.

  • AdSweep – clever little tool that helps clean up ad-content in Chrome and Opera.  Works a bit like Firefox’s Ad-block type of extensions.  Installation is a bit more technical as “plug-in” support for Chrome and Opera isn’t quite as seamless as Firefox. However it is a start and not too hard to do.  Spotted via Lifehacker’s AdSweep Blocks Ads in Google Chrome and Opera post.

M-Lab - Google Networking Tools Collection

We have a number of network traffic monitoring tools and resources at our disposal, along with an elite-team of top-tier networking systems specialists.  However things get a bit more dicey when trying to see what is going on outside our routers and local-area networks before we escalate issues up the problem resolution food-chain.  Sure, we can always run a Speedtest but that is pretty limited.

This new Google project partnership, M-Lab, looks like it can provide us a selection of additional tools to see what is going on with the network. Home users could benefit as well.

Data is golden when troubleshooting network issues.

  • Network Diagnostic Tool  - Test your connection speed and receive sophisticated diagnosis of problems limiting speed.

  • Glasnost - Test whether BitTorrent is being blocked or throttled.

  • Network Path and Application Diagnosis  - Diagnose common problems that impact last-mile broadband networks.

  • DiffProbe (coming soon)  - Determine whether an ISP is giving some traffic a lower priority than other traffic.

  • NANO (coming soon)  - Determine whether an ISP is degrading the performance of a certain subset of users, applications, or destinations.

Prepare to wait a while before some of these tests kick off. They look pretty popular at the moment.

Supporting information and details from other technical locations.

--Claus V.

2 comments:

ffextensionguru said...

AdSweep sounds intriguing. I might take a look at it for Chrome. Don't use Opera all that much (more like at all) to even make it worth my while to do the install.

Anonymous said...

@ffextensionguru: AdSweep works great in Opera. It works a little better in Opera than in Chrome.