Sunday, November 27, 2011

Microsoft Tools and Software Stuff

Fear not, I’ve got a real deep pile of linkage for all kinds of tools, utilities, and software/freeware fun.

Got to start digging somewhere so today’s post will be Microsoft centric.

Updates: release of The Windows Sysinternals Administrator's Reference, Process Explorer v15, Listdlls v3.1, new utility Findlinks v1, and Mark to Speak at Black Hat US 2011 - Sysinternals Site Discussion

Process Explorer v15: This major update to Process Explorer, a powerful tool for inspecting and controlling processes, threads, loaded DLLs, and more, adds GPU utilization and memory monitoring on Vista and higher. It also adds the ability to restart services, has a smaller memory footprint, and has visually cleaner performance graphs.

Process Explorer 15 adds GPU monitoring - BetaNews - Good overview of some of the changes in the latest iteration of Process Explorer. One of the biggest complaints for the original version was that when minimized to the system tray, the graph-on-grey standard color was horrible to see and a backlash resulted in the forums.

Updates: Process Explorer v15.01 and TCPView v3.05 - Sysinternals Site Discussion - Fortunately Mark Russinovich heard the pleas and quickly came out with an incremental update that allows for custom setting of the graph colors.

Troubleshooting with the New Sysinternals Administrator’s Reference - Mark's Blog. hard to believe but until this release there hasn’t been an “official” MS guidebook to the Sysinternals tools. That oversight is now resolved.

ProcDump v4.0: This update for ProcDump, a trigger-based process dump capture utility, enables you to control the contents of the dump with your own minidump callback DLL and adds a new switch, -w, that has ProcDump wait for a specified process to start.

Process Monitor v2.96: This release changes the appearance of its tooltips to the default theme, fixes a drawing bug in the treeview, and updates the graphs to match the style introduced in Process Explorer v15.

Mark’s Blog: The Case of the Hung Game Launcher: Read Mark’s latest blog post where he uses the Sysinternals utilities to solve a problem he ran into one Sunday morning when trying to play a computer game.

Zero Day Malware Cleaning with the Sysinternals Tools (link to PDF): Mark has posted the slides from the highly-attended and well received Blackhat 2011 Workshop he delivered last week, Zero Day Malware Cleaning with the Sysinternals Tools, which demonstrates how to use the Sysinternals tools to hunt down and eliminate malware.

Coreinfo v3: Coreinfo is a command-line utility that reports detailed information about processor cores and topology, including cache sizes, core-to-socket mappings and NUMA memory latencies.  It now shows the processor features supported by the system’s processors. For example, Coreinfo will show if the processor supports hardware-assisted virtualization and advanced virtualization features like Second Level Address Translation.

SDelete v1.6: SDelete, a command-line utility for securely deleting files and zeroing volume free space, fixes a bug that prevented it from accessing some files on 64-bit Windows and swaps the zero-free-space and clean-free-space arguments to make them more intuitive.

Process Explorer v15.04: This release fixes several minor bugs, including a tooltip display bug and one that could result in a miscalculation of CPU usage on Windows 7 in the refresh immediately following the termination of a CPU-intensive process

Autoruns v11: This update to Autoruns, a GUI and command-line tool that lists executables configured to run when you boot, logon or run common applications, adds a “jump to folder” command and several additional autostart locations. The command-line version, Autorunsc, adds a new switch to show file hashes and an option to display the autostart entries for all user accounts registered on a system.

Coming Soon: PST Capture Tool - Exchange Team Blog

This new tool, PST Capture, will be downloadable and free, and will enable you to discover .pst files on your network and then import them into both Exchange Online (in Office 365) and Exchange Server 2010 on-premises. PST Capture will be available later this year. It doesn’t replace the New-MailboxImportRequest cmdlet that exists already for importing known .pst files into Exchange Server, but instead works in parallel to enable you to embark on a systematic search and destroy mission to rid yourself of the dreaded .pst scourge <*pirate growl*>.

PST Viewer - Free tool to open and view content of PST files without MS Outlook - Kernel Data Recovery - I had the opportunity to try out this awesome tool recently. A user’s NTFS HDD had borked out. While I was able to successfully recover all of their personal file data off the drive, their PST file appeared to have Microsoft Camera Codec Pack offers RAW support in Windows | HD Viewbeen lost.  I was able to use TestDisk - CGSecurity on a filtered PST file carving of the drive to locate and save more than a few PST files. PST Viewer allowed me to quickly assess the contents of each one until I was certain I had the correct ones needed and could ignore the others, all without having to go through the process of attaching each one to a running Outlook client as a data-file. It was a major time-saver.  More in this post Gave up Microsoft Outlook but need your PST file? There's an app for that - BetaNews.

Bit of old new now, but RAW file support now available in Photo Gallery and Windows 7.

Microsoft Live Essentials got some more updates quite a while ago:

Microsoft updates Windows Live Essentials 2011 -- get it now! - BetaNews

Coming this week: an update to Windows Live Essentials 2011 - Inside Windows Live

In addition to changes that improve performance and quality of service, the update also includes full support for SSL in Windows Live Mail, and the latest Bing bar. Here are a few of things we think you’ll find the most interesting:

  • Mail: We fixed a sorting issue in the Sent items folder and improved the upload reliability and instrumentation in Photo mail.
  • Messenger: We fixed a couple of stability issues and made various changes for improved voice and video quality. We fixed an issue that was causing sound to be lost after upgrading, and we improved performance when displaying the MSN Today page in the main window.
  • Photo Gallery: We implemented various bug fixes for crashes related to launching Photo Gallery through Autoplay and facial recognition.
  • And more: We made many other usability, performance, and stability improvements across the suite of Windows Live Essentials apps.

While I find that the stock calculator in Windows 7 does pretty well for my needs, I prefer using SpeedCrunch Portable ( for rechecking my calculation jobs (which really aren’t that sophisticated), particularly with it’s input history feature.

I was excited then when I found a CyberNet News review post pointing out the availability of the free Microsoft Mathematics 4.0 application.  Turns out this baby can not only handle complex math functions, it also includes a graphing calculator, triangle solver, unit conversion tool, as well as an extensive formulas and equations library.  Really cool stuff.

Related alternatives:

RedCrab - The Calculator - freeware - super-featured and intuitive complex scientific calculator program. Portable.

Converber Portable - - Freeware super-featured unit converter application.


--Claus V.

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