cc photo credit: Collapsed scrum by Paddy K on flickr
Been collecting this pile of links for what seems like months. Finally get an opportunity to unload.
They are piled on thick so set some time aside and bookmark for future reference.
Windows Offline Updater – Updated
One of the handiest tools I have for servicing Windows systems that haven’t been automatically updated in some time is the Offline Updater utility. I last posted about in back in 2007: heise Offline Update 4.0 - Now Serving Vista and Office users!
In one fell swoop you can build individual or combined update packages of Windows and Microsoft updates. You can burn then on CD, DVD, or copy over to USB. All the update packages come directly from Microsoft update servers so they are clean and fresh.
With Windows 7 now out, I decided to go back looking for any updates and was pleasantly surprised to find it has received a new storefront and additional feature support. This project continues to be developed and maintained by the original author, Torsten Wittrock.
Supporting Windows OS’s XP, Server 2003, Vista/Server 2008, Windows 7/Server 2008 R2. All in both x32 & x64 bit flavors. You can make a single ISO or individual ones for each product selected, and copy the the updates for the selected products to a USB stick. MS Office Suite updates for XP, 2003 and 2007. And finally, there is also legacy support for Windows 2000.
This is one that really can save some time and aggravation, particularly when you have a lot of systems to update, little time to do it, and doing all systems at once over the wire might seem like sucking a Jack-in-the-Box shake though a beverage straw.
Nir Sofer has been hard at work updating older utilities and releasing new ones. Get all of these for takeout!
- FlashCookiesView – (new) - “…is a small utility that displays the list of cookie files created by Flash component (Local Shared Object) in your Web browser. For each cookie file, the lower pane of FlashCookiesView displays the content of the file in readable format or as Hex dump. You can also select one or more cookie files, and then copy them to the clipboard, save them to text/html/xml file or delete them. “ Works on all Windows systems from 2K to Win7. You can also use the tool to load them from system images or offline-systems. Really could be handy for incident response or forensics work. This should make review of these cookies much easier than previous methods for Managing Flash Cookies. This is a great new utility.
- WinPrefetchView – (new) - “…is a small utility that reads the Prefetch files stored in your system and display the information stored in them. By looking in these files, you can learn which files every application is using, and which files are loaded on Windows boot. The main window of WinPrefetchView contains 2 panes: The upper pane displays the list of all Prefetch files in your system. When you select a file in the upper pane, the lower pane displays the list of files stored inside the selected Prefetch file, which represent the files that were loaded by the application in the previous times that you used it. These is also special Prefetch file, with 'NTOSBOOT-B00DFAAD.pf' filename, which can show you the list of files that are loaded during Windows boot process.” Another brand spanking new utility. Supports all Windows systems from XP to Windows 7. Another tool I can think of a number of uses for in incident response. Also supports off-line system examination of this file.
- DiskSmartView – (new) - “…is a small utility that retrieves the S.M.A.R.T information (S.M.A.R.T = Self-Monitoring, Analysis, and Reporting Technology) from IDE/SATA disks. This information includes the disk model/firmware/serial number, cylinders/heads, power-on hours (POH), internal temperature, disk errors rate, and more. You can use the S.M.A.R.T information retrieved by DiskSmartView to find out whether there is any significant problem in your disk drive.” Supported on Windows 2000 – Win7 systems with SMART enabled HDD.
- DiskCountersView - (new) – “…displays the system counters of each disk drive in your system, including the total number of read/write operations and the total number of read/write bytes. It also displays general drive information, like disk name, partition number, partition location, and so on..” Supports Win XP to Win7 with some support for Windows 2000 as well.
- AlternateStreamView - (updated) - View/Copy/Delete NTFS Alternate Data Streams. Updated to better support Win7 and x64 systems.
- BlueScreenView - (updated) – Obtain online/offline blue screen of death (STOP error) information. Recent updates include addition of 3 new columns: Processors Count, Major Version, Minor Version, 'Explorer Copy' option, which allows you to copy dump files to the clipboard and then paste them into Explorer window, and Combo-Box to easily choose the MiniDump folders available in the hard-disks currently attached to your computer.
- SmartSniff - (updated) - Freeware Packet Sniffer - Capture TCP/IP packets on your network adapter. Updated to now export TCP/IP steam filetypes 'Raw Data Files - Local' and 'Raw Data Files – Remote' “..for exporting only one side of the stream.”
- OperaCacheView - (updated) - Cache viewer for Opera Web browser. Recently supporting Opera versions up to 10, this update adds “…'Explorer Copy' option, which allows you to copy the cache files into the clipboard, and then paste them into Explorer window. 'Delete Selected Cache Files' option. ‘Mark Missing Files' option. 'Hide Missing Files' option.
- OpenFilesView on x64 system – when driver signing test mode is turned on. NirBlog post on how the OpenFilesView app works on x64 bit Windows systems in certain conditions.
- Find duplicate files in your system with SearchMyFiles utility. NirBlog post on how newest version of SearchMyFiles can be used to find duplicate files. There are other utilities to do this as well, but I really love SMF for my daily system file searching and this new trick is one more feather in the cap.
- NirLauncher - Collection of more than 100 portable utilities from NirSoft. Our favorite local Chinese buffet bar has a great deal for dine-in eats. For takeout, you pay by the scale….not as good a deal. With NirLauncher you can take the whole NirSofer App buffet “to-go”. It will launch and auto-detect x64 bit systems and then auto-launch the correct (if available) x64 bit Nir utility as well. Way too cool! The download page also contains a plug-in to support the Windows Sysinternals Suite package files. Bonus Score. Some minor assembly required.
- 10 new utilities planned for 2010 - (released / upcoming) – NirBlog list of new tools (some now out) from the NirFactory. All good! It’s kinda like waiting for Christmas all over again!
Here are more great utility updates from Piriform and Sysinternals (and one new beta from Piriform folks as well).
- Sysinternals Updates - VMMap v2.5, Disk2vhd v1.4; Autoruns v9.57.
This update to VMMap, a process memory analysis utility, now identifies thread environment blocks (TEBs), the process environment block (PEB), and reserved memory.
Disk2vhd v1.4: Now includes an option for Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 that directs it to fix up the kernel and HAL to make the VHDs generated for these systems bootable in Virtual PC. It also skips sectors with CRC errors to enable the conversion of systems with failing disks.
Autoruns v9.57: Now reports more group policy script entries.
- Sysinternals Updates - ProcDump v1.7, AccessChk v4.24, Sigcheck v1.64, Desktops v1.01
ProcDump v1.7: This update to ProcDump, a command-line utility that will generate memory dumps of processes based on various selectable criteria, now supports periodic timed dumps as well as dumps based on virtual memory thresholds.
AccessChk v4.24: AccessChk, a utility that shows effective security permissions for files, registry keys, services, and more, now supports process tokens.
Sigcheck v1.64: This release adds reporting for more signature verification errors.
Desktops v1.01: This fixes a bug that prevented Desktops from launching Explorer on secondary desktops when run on 64-bit Windows 7.
- Recuva - File and disk recovery utility - Piriform
- Files can now be recovered without requiring the scan to complete.
- Improvements to Thunderbird email recovery.
- Fixed bug with "Check for Updates" link.
- Fixed bug with tab stop not working after canceling scan
- Fixed wizard options bug, which affected some languages.
- Minor bugs fixes and performance improvements.
- Defraggler - File and disk defragmentation utility – Piriform.
Here's the full list of changes:
* New native 64-bit EXE.
* Defrag engine improvements to take advantage of 64-bit code.
* Fixed Vista and Windows 7 repaint issue when language was changed.
* Improved moving routine for small orphaned files.
* Lots of small tweaks and improvements.
- Speccy – Beta release of a system information gathering tool – Piriform. Yes there are lots of other great System Information gathering tools. This one comes in a single exe format and has a really nice GUI. It won’t replace the highly complex SIW | System Information for Windows by Gabriel Topala or SIV - System Information Viewer but for an application I can stow on a system I’ve built, it looks very useful and promising. Spotted in this mini-review at MakeUseOf blog: Speccy – An Advanced System Information Tool For Your PC.
Fast New Finds
- AstroGrep - (freeware) – Nice, fast, and easy to use Windows grep tool.
- Explorer++ (freeware) – This alternative file manager for Windows is impressive to me for the portability, the interface, the tabbed format, and that it delivers in both x32 and x64 bit flavors. Nice friendly alternative for those who want to use a more friendly file manager than Windows Vista/7 offers, but don’t need the advanced features say in freeCommander.
- Sunbelt Blog: VIPRE 4 now in beta – Notice courtesy of SunbeltBlog. “VIPRE 4 includes an integrated firewall, HIPS, IDS, NIPS and all kinds of other goodness.”
- Security Database Tools Watch - FireCAT v1.6 the online version released.
What’s new ?
- Online version. Think to activate "Full Screen"
- Added a description of the extension
- Added "Actual release and Firefox compatibility"
- A logo is now embedded when available
- Many new extensions added (thanks to Kev Orrey for Maltego Mesh and Maximiliano Soler for a least 10 extensions)
- Bugs and dead links fixed
- Preparing for the release 2.0
(Mostly) Free ScreenShot Capture Apps for Windows
Just to show how frazzled my brain has been lately, I spent over thirty minutes diving my blog archives looking for this post. Not only have I done so many I have to search it now for linkages, but I totally forgot I had collected the links but not published them. I may spin these off into a separate post later.
- FastStone Screen Capture – This one remains my favorite and “go-to” screen capture tool. The newest versions aren’t free, however Portable Freeware has a link to the last free version. Several different modes as well as the ability to open the capture into a nicely featured editor.
- Microsoft Vista/Win7 Snipping Tool - My Digital Life. Free with the OS. Not much to it but gets the job done in a pinch.
- Screenshot Captor – Mouser - DonationCoder.com.
- Lightscreen Portable - PortableApps.com. I usually install this one on family PC’s I set up.
- Bug Shooting – Quite a lot more going on under the hood on this one, but not really geared for “normal” screenshot usage.
- Screeny - RoteBetaSoftware.net
- Window Clippings - ($/trial) – Not free but very polished and comes in x64 bit Windows support as well. Do you really need a x64 build of a screen-shot utility? Probably not, but it is still cool and I couldn’t help but mention it. Also supports transparency effects and shadowing of Vista/Windows7 OS’s as well as handles those pesky rounded corners nicely that most all other apps cannot. Uses a single exe file.
- Snagit ($) by TechSmith – Again not free but a very popular and trusted screen capture (and motion recording) capture tool. Even Lavie knew this one as they used it at her former place of employment. She is very comfortable with it. If you don’t want to pony up some $, you can still download an older version (7.2.5) of it that works great which was offered free as a special promotion. Just Download SnagIt (via My Digital Life) or at this Old Version of SnagIT 7.2.5 Download via OldApps.com and then locate the promotion registration key and use it to get it going.
- HoverSnap – Nice and pretty simple screen cap app.
- Jing – Not your father’s screen capture app. This one is geared for the on-line socializing folks. Although it can do all the basic static screen capture tricks, it can also do video capture and offers lots of uploading options to various social media sites.
- WinSnap - NTWind Software - ($/trial) – Not free but also so nice I couldn’t help but list it as well. Also comes in x32 and x64 bit flavors and this latest version was a major refresh. Also wonderfully handles Vista/Win7 corner rounding, transparencies, and shadowing. Yep. Portable and U3 versions also available.
(mostly) Drive and Device Tools
- Device Remover - (free) – New find this week. Sophisticated tool. No other way to say it. This is one bad-ass utility. Requires .NET 2.0. Just launching this thing with the CLI loader showing says it means business. Comes in both x32 and x64 auto executing format it supports Microsoft Windows 2000/XP/Vista/Windows7 OS’s. Nirsoft’s DriverView is handy for viewing installed drivers but this sucker really can surgically provide information on drivers and processes, both installed and in memory, and give you options for dealing with them. For more info see this 4sysops post: Device Remover – A powerful Device Manager alternative
- 4sysops - FREE: H2bench – Benchmark hard disks – Michael has a nice listing of various HDD tools on his sysadmin blog.
- SpaceSniffer – (freeware) – my new favorite with disk space utilization and graphing. Recently updated.
- HDDScan – (freeware) – nice SMART disk tool with a user-friendly GUI. Portable and has been recently updated.
- Drive Manager -- (freeware) – another really handy multi-utility disk tool. Bonus is the ability to see the HDD serial number reported. Good for incident response documentation and auditing.
- Adobe Labs - Adobe Flash Player 10.1 beta 2. – Yeah. I’m hiding this one in here. Good, cool, neat. Really nice rendering and playbacks. Only issue is that it pinkified-pixelated my YouTube playbacks on my Shuttle SFF Win7 RC1 system despite updating the latest AGP 512MB fancy video card I had installed. Had to roll back to the latest public Flash to resolve the issue (for now).
- HandBrake Updates to 0.9.4 with Over 1,000 Changes, 64-Bit Support - Lifehacker.
- Create Professional Looking Photo Slideshows With Photo Story 3 – MakeUseOf blog.
- which reminded me of the freeware “Ken Burns” style app PhotoFilmStrip.
- Win7 Library Tool - Zorn Software. Yes. This indeed is a Windows 7 File System tweaking tool. I’ve mentioned it briefly before but it seemed apropos again. It allows you to create a Windows 7 library folder for media filetypes. Surprsingly this is something that you can’t do natively. See this Lifehacker post Win7 Library Tool Gives You Complete Control Over Media Libraries for more info. Per Lifehacker:
”Win7 Library Tool shows you all your libraries in one window, and when you choose to edit one, you can edit tons of otherwise hidden Library properties. You can change a library's icon, create a mirror (allowing you to make the path to a library much shorter), add network or other non-indexed folders to your libraries, and even back them up for restoration later on (say, if you decide to do a clean install). Essentially, it's what library management in Windows 7 should have been.”
- Hulu - Labs: Hulu Desktop – While I watch very, very little on-line television or other programming, when I do, I like smooth playback and easy episode finding. Hulu has provided both in the past but the web page interface has been a bit unpleasant experience wise. So when I downloaded and set up the Hulu desktop beta, it really wowed me. Smooth playback and a much more entertainment-like experience. Still I can quickly navigate and find the media shows I’m looking for. Very nice.
- Videora Converter - Free Video Converter – Yep. Yet another nice (and free) video format converter. Found when I went looking for another Samsung phone media converter and came across this Videora Samsung Instinct Converter. See also these Samsung Instinct Audio Converter, Samsung Instinct Wallpaper, Samsung Instinct Ringtones
- GSpot Codec Information Appliance. Cool and advanced tool to analyze media files to determine what codecs would be required to play them as well as which codecs are installed on your system. GSpot doesn’t provide the codecs but gives you lots of information to resolve the issues.
Lots and lots of speed tests on the interwebs. Here are my latest picks.
- Speedtest.net - The Global Broadband Speed Test.
- Speakeasy Speed Test.
- Pingtest.net - The Global Broadband Quality Test - Because raw upload and download tests don’t tell the full story, Pingtest (via Speedtest) also tests packet loss rates, ping rates, and jitter.
- M-Lab | Welcome to Measurement Lab – Provides some additional deep diagnostic and traffic shaping testing of your ISP provider. Neat toys.
…in the beginning was that Windows “god-Mode” meme….
This one blazed across the net quite fast, fortunately the follow-up posts were much more educational than the original trick. No forbidden fruit here. It’s all legit “tree of knowledge” stuff. The good and evil bit is up to you….
- Windows 7 God Mode : Old wine in new bottle – The Windows Club sets the record straight and points credit to Ramesh Kumar for the original discovery back in Vista. Ina Fried may have kick started the resurrection event in Win7.
- Tweakfest! Enable God Mode in Windows 7 by Dwight Silverman over at the TechBlog along with Ed Bott in his That "God mode" Explorer trick does less than you think post helped get the meme rolling with added coverage thanks to their popular following. I thought it was cool.
- 4sysops - Windows 7 GodMode (God Mode) and all AngelModes. Michael defines “AngelModes” as lesser, but similar folder types. These have fewer contents but the same basic feature and properties that the “godMode" folder trick delivers.
- “GodMode”? - Spyware Sucks. More.
- Understanding Windows 7’s “GodMode” – Ina Fried’s original CNet post.
- Newsletter #83: Examining the "God Mode" Console – Mark Minasi. As Mark points out, you can actually name it anything. Somehow “godMode” seemed catchy and probably helped fan the flames.
- Newsletter #84: Liven Up WinPE and Extend "God Mode". – Mark’s first tip, adding a custom WinPE wallpaper is much cooler, but if you want to know how to get that other thing working on Vista64bit, he’s got a tip for you.
- More Tips on “Windows 7 Hacker” Mode, aka Windows 7 GodMode - Windows 7 hacker. Now this is one blog post on the subject that actually offers some useful variations. See these to place the power in a more useful (for a sysadmin) place rather than up-front on the desktop:
- How to Add Windows 7 “God Mode” Shortcut in My Computer Context Menu?
- How to Add Windows 7 “God Mode” Shortcut in Desktop Context Menu?
- How to Pin Windows 7 “God Mode” Shortcut to Taskbar?
- The Deployment Guys : Windows 7 GodMode and Other Folder Shortcuts. – Finally the MS guys decided they couldn’t remain silent on the issue and needed to step into the meme. They offer a bit more (but not much) technical background and additional suggestions on additional “angelMode” folder ID’s as well.
- List of CLSID to open Windows Special Folders : The Secret BEHIND the Windows 7 GodMode - The Windows Club team offers those and a few more related links such as.
- 14 GUID shortcuts that work only in Windows 7
- 25 GUID shortcuts that work in Windows Vista and Windows 7
- Windows 7 & Vista Control Panel Canonical Names – MSDN Windows Developer Center library. Surely the fact that they referred to these special ID labels as “canonical” didn’t contribute to the temptation to call these things “godMode”. Nahhh.
Windows 7 Tweaking
As I detailed in my One Windows 7 Upgrade down, two (maybe three) to go… post, I have a number of things I do when I do a Win7 install. Nothing dramatic. I am compelled to mod the login background using the freeware Windows 7 Logon Background Changer and use a modded FxVisor utility form x64 found under “Method Two” of this Shortcut Arrow - Vista Forums post to change/reduce the Windows shortcut icon indicator. Lavie’s laptop that I finally upgraded to Win7 Home Premium got a custom “Twilight” theming all the way round. She was surprised and delighted. It turned out quite nice IMHO.
I also like to do away with the original super-sized Windows 7 taskbar items and re-enable the QuickLaunch bar (seen here in the Get your Big Whata-Microsoft Linkdump Here! post). That’s also a gimmie. That same post also has some methods to get a “Windows Classic” start menu tweaked as well.
For more fine grained tweaking you might also want to check out these sysadmin-friendly links, tips, and free utilities. They are a system setup tweaker’s delight.
- GodMode Creator for Windows 7 & Vista - (utility) - The Windows Club. If the steps in the section above were just too complicated for you, this free utility has got you covered. Pick the godMode/angelMode folder feature you want and click away!
- Preme for Windows 7 - (utility) - Simple tool to set some some advanced windows tricks with the mouse/cursor and hot-zones on the desktop.
- Windows Access Panel for Windows 7 & Vista - (utility) - The Windows Club. This one gets the seat of honor on my QuickLaunch bar by being icon shortcut position #1. Less overwhelming than godMode, it provides a fast jump to all the most commonly needed control panel items.
- Quick Restore Maker - (utility) - The Windows Club. While some installation routines make a system restore point, manually kicking one off before a major (or minor) system change, tweak, or installation can mean some digging to get to the starting point. This gem lets creates a link for you to click on demand to get it going in a rapid deployment.
- GRC | ClicKey - (utility) – This one is an oldie but still a goodie. Simple exe file lets you set one of 26 audio-feedback click sounds to your keypressing. Add as a startup item or (even better) a scheduled task and it might improve your keyboarding. Certainly at the (free) price, is much cheaper than one of those amazing Das Keyboard clickity uber keyboard wunders. See this Give your silent keyboards a click sound of their own with ClicKey The Windows Club post for a bit more info if you are curious. To avoid the “splash” when adding to a scheduled task or startup, launch with the correct parameter. See the page for details.
- Handy Shortcuts - (utility) - The Windows Club. For some folks the method to add some system function shortcut to the desktop just doesn’t seem intuitive. This tool makes it a breeze.
- 99 Ready-to-use Windows 7 desktop shortcuts - (utility) - The Windows Club. If the list in the “Handy Shortcuts” tool above isn’t robust enough for you, give this one a shot. Wowzers! Contains actual Windows 7 shortcut links to all kinds of features, places, and things. Just find the one you want in the package and add it to the location you need to deploy it on in your Windows 7 system.
- WindowsVJ Xclusive Release Windows 7: Tips & Tricks - (free Ebook) - Vasu Jain has provided a really nice, muti-format Ebook that lists over 50 clear and easy to follow tips and tricks to tweak out Win7. I keep this on my Win7 systems as well as a resource for fine-tuning different elements.
Windows Odd’s n Ends
Last but not least, here are some more flotsam and jetsam on the Microsoft shores.
- The Deployment Guys : Added support for 802.1x in Windows PE. Yeah. The best for last. Can you believe it? Quoting from Daniel Oxley’s post (from Spain no less!).
- 5 Killer Optimization Apps To Maximize Your Netbook’s Potential – MakeUseOf blog. Lavie’s been toying with the idea of getting a Dell netbook over a Kindle. Figures it will be more flexible for her reading needs as well as the quick-trips on visit to her parent’s house. Allows her to do the fan-fiction surfing/reading without getting locked into a limited format Ebook reader. No decision yet, but this post has some good tips.
- 64-bit compatible Live Meeting and Outlook Conferencing Add-In released - Aaron Tiensivu’s Blog. Thought you should know…
- 4sysops - Is VHD Boot better than Multi-Boot? Maybe not.. – Michael nicely weighs out the pros-n-cons of VHD boot or multi-boot.
- How To Resize VHD To Get More Space for Your Virtual Machine - Windows 7 hacker covers some major points and tips on working and optimizing VHD’s.
- Ask the Performance Team : An Introduction to the Windows System State Analyzer – a very advanced change-state detection logger. Nice, although heavy duty, tool to see what changes an application/installer makes on your system when loading or making image refreshes. Might be helpful in malware monitoring in a lab system environment as well.
- Network Monitor : Annotated Traces for Windows System Behavior. Microsoft’s Network Monitor team has offered some sample network trace captures and added in comments to highlight some elements of note. Might be a good learning tool set.
Since the dawn of time, Windows PE (WinPE) has not had any support for the 802.1x authentication protocol. This meant that any network deployment of Windows via a network secured with 802.1x was a non-starter, causing headaches for a few on my customers; I actually had one customer that ran new network cables to a majority of the desks in order to be able to deploy Windows XP over the network.
However, thanks in part to a colleague of mine who worked on this, Microsoft has released hotfixes that now add 802.1x support to both WinPE 2.1 and WinPE 3.0. You can get the hotfixes and further information at the below links:
WinPE 2.1: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/975483
WinPE 3.0: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/972831
I wanted to share the links now, but in the near future I will write up a post on how to use these hotfixes in your deployments.
Dude…I will SO be waiting for them!
Feels good to get these emptied out.