Sunday, May 31, 2009

Sunday Linkfest: Last Call

Turned out that I was able to stay a lot more productive this weekend than I anticipated.

Not only was I able to take care of most of the home-chore list, but in getting up my planned posts, I actually uncovered more than a few surprising gems as well.

Here are the remaining links.


Snapshot build with preview of the *new* Skin – Opera Desktop Team – Opera 10 Alpha stuff so there’s a here be dragons warning attached.  That said it is stable enough for casual browsing for the curious and will, by default, install into it’s own program folder to keep any existing release versions of Opera you may have intact.  It’s a very nice browser that needs much more credit that it gets.  It’s been drowned out by Firefox and Chrome and it is a shame.  It’s a bit hard to tell for non-regular Opera users but the new skin is polished and sophisticated.  Much more refined that either the default themes in Firefox or Chrome (IMHO).  The European roots shine through.

Portable Google Chrome Beta (Google Translate) – Direct link to Caschy’s Blog where his updated Portable Google launcher is available including a newer Google Chrome release. Spotted via Lifehacker blog.

Microsoft Watch

The Case of the Slow Keynote Demo – Mark’s Blog – Mark Russinovich uses his l33t Windows powers of observation to trace a stuttery presentation element.  While the ultimate cause is probably unlikely to be encountered by most users, it is another example of using Process Monitor to deliberately drill down to the exact cause of the error.

Extended Support Begins for Windows XP—Support for XP Continues Until 2014 – Microsoft Support Lifecycle Blog. I knew this but it was good to see it again.  A gentleman at our church asked me last week what he should do.  He has a solid XP desktop system and two Vista systems.  For some reason he was under the belief that XP support was getting dropped this summer. Not true.  But he already had two Vista systems and wasn’t impressed with Vista to switch; particularly knowing that Windows 7 is just around the corner.  On the other hand, he would rather pull the plug on the system than run it “unsecured” and unsupported.  This was big relief.

And will likely be as well to all the enterprise deployments of XP Professional whose IT shops are patiently waiting to jump over Vista and begin taking a closer look at Windows 7 in a year or two.

From the post (emphasis mine):

Recently there has been a fair amount of press coverage regarding the end of Mainstream Support for Windows XP. Released at the tail end of 2001, Windows XP has been a solid hit in the marketplace and there has been some concern about what the move from Mainstream to Extended Support means for customers.

To be clear, Microsoft will continue to support Windows XP until 8 April 2014 – about five years from now. So what are the differences between Mainstream and Extended?

Microsoft divides support for Business and Developer products (including the Windows XP operating system) into two distinct timeframes: Mainstream Support and Extended Support. In a nutshell, Mainstream Support provides both consumers and enterprise customers with a full offering of support including complimentary support, design change requests, security updates and other kinds of updates for the product.

Extended Support does alter the range of support a bit, but for the vast majority of customers the essential core remains the same. For example, customers will continue to receive free security updates and can call in for paid support until the second Tuesday in April of 2014. Enterprise customers with Premier Support who may need non-security hotfixes (such as design change requests) should consider enrolling in an optional support program named Extended Hotfix Support (EHS). EHS is required by very few customers as the product has matured to the point where design changes are relatively infrequent. For more information on obtaining Extended Hotfix Support, enterprise customers should contact their Microsoft account representative.

Microsoft Support Lifecycle Policy – Microsoft Help and Support – Pretty charts that will probably confuse most everyone seeking to understand what the blog post above clearly states.  Have at it kids.


Stuff – Windows Incident Response blog. Darn if I was clever enough to come up with catchy post leads like that! ;-)  Seriously, it covers a nice swath of items including torrent use analysis, full-disk encryption evaluation, and some great System Event ID analysis.

Worth Reading: Analysing packed malware - The H Security. This was a neat find.  Heise brings notice that a Piotr Bania has a free PDF paper just released covering a new method developed to circumvent packing-protection methods used by malware authors.  This is great reading for malware analysts.  Generic Unpacking of Self-modifying, Aggressive, Packed Binary Programs (PDF) – Piotr Bania.  What was even cooler is that you may recall Piotr as the gentleman who recently brought us his Kon-Boot: Bypass Windows Login Security non-persistent boot kit tool.

Piotr Bania Chronicles – Yep.  I also was able to track down Piotr’s own personal blogsite as well.  Filled with some interesting posts.  I hope more good stuff is shared by Piotr in the future.

DEFT Extra – The DEFT forensics team, creators of the DEFT LiveCD has just released their Windows Utility launcher collection.  If you download the full LiveCD, you have two choices, boot a system into the DEFT linux environment and the associated tools, or you can put it into a running Windows system and then run the DEFT-Extra tools.  It’s a very nice collection of system utilities and some forensics-related tools as well.  Now you can download just that package and play with these.  Definitely some sweet tools here that just about any technician or sysadmin would find a good use for. Check it out!

L0phtcrack 6 – Live and Revived!  A powerful password auditing and recovery tool.  They are offering a free 15-day trial version for download along with a number of various versions for purchase depending on your deployment needs. See the Learn about L0phtCrack for screenshots and more.  Of course, if you are on a budget there is always the open source Ophcrack version.  I’d be interested to see some side-by-side comparisons…for some reason, my money would probably be on L0phtcrack 6.


Paint.NET has got to be one of the easiest but most powerful freeware photo/image manipulation tools there is.  Sure it can’t compare with Photoshop and it’s not quite in the same graphic tool class as the GIMP either.  That said if you are looking for an advanced image tool, this is well worth looking into. It does require the .NET framework.

If you are an experienced Paint.NET user and looking for a bit of the cutting-edge when it comes to performance and features, you can always try out some of the Alpha-version releases of Paint.NET.  Only you won’t easily find them from the main product page.  You will have to go over to the Paint.NET v3.5 Preview Center pages to get them.

Yes these are bound to be a bit buggy and in need of additional refinement, but you might just walk away impressed with the performance or feature set offered.

Microsoft Research AutoCollage 2008 v 1.1 - Windows Live – Kurt Shintaku’s Blog.  This is a neat tool that auto-blend various images from folder into an integrated collage. See the main site-page AutoCollage 2008 for more information or Download it now for a free 30-day trial.  Demos at that link or you can purchase for $19.99 at the Microsoft Store.

Autodesk Project Dragonfly – Now THIS is cool.  Lavie and Alvis are all over this thing. Autodesk are the makers of one of the most powerful and widespread CAD programs out there.  I’m frequently working with the Autodesk file viewer to cover CAD drawings into Visio for our team.  Anyway, Project Dragonfly is an amazingly detailed and fun web-based 3D CAD application to do design and layout work for your home.  It’s fun and no CAD experience is necessary.

GSD Fan Bonus

So this neat utility find is a bonus treat for all you faithful GSD readers who actually made it to the bottom of this post.

Psimo File Mount – freeware -- Pismo Technic Inc. (Screen Shots)

Psimo offers a number of interesting products, but the one in particular you need to look for is the Pismo File Mount Audit Package.

Now my favorite freeware tool to mount ISO files as a “virtual drive” has been SlySoft Virtual CloneDrive. Besides being free and stable, it’s just fun and easy to use.  Sure there is also Daemon Tools but it hooks deeper into the system and is toolbar/ad supported which has turned many former fans off it. There are some other virtual drive mounters as well that I have posted about and also the newer Gizmo Drive freeware utility as well. (Note: Gizmo Drive also supports Windows 7 in both x32/x64 bit platforms…)

I haven’t needed (yet) a Windows 7 compatible program but it appears Psimo File Mount is the solution for virtual drive ISO file mounting in Win 7. Nice.  Supports Windows 7 x32/x64 bit releases along with previous Windows OS versions.

What seems so appealing is that you can not just mount an ISO file as a virtual drive, but if you don’t need drive-letter access/operation, you can also use it to mount an ISO as a folder to view/access files.  That’s pretty handy.  Also handles ZIP files in a similar manner.

Hopefully you will be as impressed with it as I am.  Great tool for you ISO disk jockey’s out there.

Thanks for hanging around for the final call with me.

See you again at the counter real soon.

--Claus V.

1 comment:

Ares Vista said...

Wow! Guess you were busy! Great post, and thanks for fitting it in. We always look forward to your blog entries, and this one is especially good.