Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Running Ubuntu 6.06 Dapper Drake in a Microsoft Virtual Machine 2007

We I recently have been talking about Virtual Machines and I wanted to look at Ubuntu 6.06 Dapper Drake for many reasons. Getting everything installed was easy once I started the install in Graphics Safe mode. From there it was a simple easy to follow install. Now I can play with Linux or any thing else that I can get to run in the VM at will.

The only "downside" to Ubuntu is they don't install services with the operating system. I wanted SSH installed by default, but I must have missed that somewhere. It's one command to install SSHD on Ubuntu. "apt-get install openssh-server" A minute or so later I was using putty from my local machine to get CLI access to the server!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Internet Explorer 7 FTP Drag and Drop Workaround

With Internet Explorer 7 being forced on many users world wide I would like to point out one of it's NEW shortcomings. Back before Tabbed Browing was all the rage there was (and still is) FTP. One of the things that Microsoft took out of Internet Explorer is something I use almost every day.

Drag and Drop File Transfers.

There is nothing easier then telling a customer to open up Internet Explorer and pointing them to the correct address (starting with ftp:// of course) and telling them they can drag the file/folder right into the window.

The easiest way to get this functionally back (though not really) is to use Windows Explorer instead. Now the first thing I ask is what version of IE they use. If its 7 I ask them to go to "My Computer" and then tell them our FTP address.

Simple, quick, yet annoying since it WAS there.

Virtual Machine Software, for Free!

We all like free software. I especially do being that I am still studing for my MCSE and can't afford high end software. My company likes free software because it allows our small IT budget to go further.

Microsoft has released Virtual PC 2004 SP1 for no cost. This is excellenct news since that is the software I use at school to train with. You can find out more about Microsoft's Virtual PC software here. One of the links is for Virtual PC 2007 Beta. I am currently installing this to see what the next generation of Virtual Machine software has to offer.

Virtual Machine software has a place in a lot of IT Departments tool set. It allows me as a Developer to have identical machines on which to test my software on. I can easily roll back a machine to it's previous state. For what I do in my job I can test out new software or a new patch before rolling it out to my clients.

I hope that my next computer has Virtualization technology built into the processor (as most do these days) to make my virtual experiance faster!

Using the Windows Backup Utility (ntbackup.exe)

Most people don't know that Windows comes with a decent (read Free!) Backup Utility. Granted it is not that useful in true enterprise situations (like mine), but it does work and is handy in a pinch. Also Microsoft has released a Powertoy called "Sync Toy" that does a fairly good job backing up file systems only.

The first thing that I do when I run the Backup Utility (found at Start Menu, [All Programs]*, Accessories, System Tools, Backup) or "Run...", ntbackup, [Enter] is I uncheck "Always start in Wizard mode", and click "Advanced Mode".

*Only if not using the "Classic" start menu in Windows XP/Server 2003.

To start a backup follow these steps.
1. Click on the "Backup" tab.
2. Check the boxes for what you want to back up.
3. Check "System State" to back up Boot Files, Com+ Class Registration Database, and the System Registry.
4. Name your backup and select it's location.
5. If you want to schedule a backup job click the "Schedule Jobs" tab. Then the "Add Jobs" button in the lower right corner.
6. This will bring up a warning dialog box if you have anything selected. "Files and Folders are already selected. Would you like to start the wiazard with these selections? Click 'No' to clear these selections before starting the Wizard." You then get the options for "Yes, No, & Cancel." If you want to use your selections click "yes" if you didn't mean to follow my directions then click "Cancel" otherwise click "No".
7. On the "Back up Wizard" home page click "Next".
8. Make your selections, remeber that if you chose "Yes" you will start with those options. Click "Next"
9. On the "Back up Type, Destination, and Name" page choose your location and file name. Click Next.
10. Choose the type of Back up job that you want to do. Options and descriptions below.

  • Normal - Back up selected files, and marks each file as backed up.
  • Copy - Backs up selected files but does not marky any as backed up.
  • Incremental - Backs up selected files only if they were created or modified since the previous backup. (You need all Tapes/Backup Files involved to sucessfully restore, makes for a quicker backup, slower recover, more can go wrong due to more tapes involved.)[Example: You Backup Incremental Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and a Normal Backup on Friday. Your server hard drive fails Wednesday after the backup, you need Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday to recover from the failure. You also need to recover the server hard drive with each tape in order.]
  • Differential - Backs up selected files only if they were created or modified since the previous backup, but does not mark them as backed up. (You only need the newest/latest tape to restore, makes for a longer back up, but a quicker restore. Since you only need one tape to recover there is less that could go wrong in the recovery process. [Example: You Backup Differential Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and a Normal Backup on Friday. Your server hard drive fails Wednesday after the backup, you need Wednesday's tape/file to recover from the failure.]
  • Daily - Backs up only files that were created or modified today.

11. Select your options (Will vary due to hardware differences)

  • Verify Data After Backup
  • Use hardware compression, if available
  • Disable Volume Shadow Copy

12. Choose to append or replace the media.

13. Set the backup schedule.

Other Resources: Backup Utility Advanced Options, Microsoft Powertoys, Microsoft Synctoy

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Remote Access Policy Reminders with Windows 2003

When using Routing and Remote Access remember that in a Domain setting all users have their dial-in properties set to "Control through Remote Access Policy".
Also remember that if No Policies exist (as in someone deleted the two default policies)there is still an implicit Deny. If none of the policies match when a user is trying to dial-in then they are denied. Additionally, if you don't delete the default policies, and create a third (and beyond) custom policy to place it above the default ones, as the policies are applied in order, from top to bottom.When a match is made to a policy the Routing and Remote Access Server stops processing policies.

Before a remote access server checks if a user has been granted dial-in access, the server checks if the user's connection to the server matches at least one of the remote access policies defined on the server. If there is no remote access policy, a remote access connection cannot be established.

Touch for Windows ported to

Well I had some free time today and ported touch to It was way easier than I thought it would be. I get the feeling that porting between C# & is not that hard (as there are online tools that can do it for you) but it was a good experiance anyways.

You can download Touch for Windows here. It is released under the GPL as was the C# version by Johan Cyprich of The source code can be found here.

I also plan on adding more of the features of the *nix touch program in the future. Check back later for updates.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Remote Control / Support Software for Free!

While some companies shell out big bucks for software like pcAnywhere or GoToMyPC I have first fell in love with TightVNC. TightVNC is one of many distributions of the popular VNC (Virtual Network Computing) client/server software. Most of this love was due to its compression abilities. Then I got sick of it now working well over a T-1 line. Then I noticed that even on a Gigabit network it was slow to respond, especially with menus, so I set out to find a replacement.

UltraVNC is what I have come to love now. On top of working well over a T-1 line or less, it offers encryption, file transfer, Windows Authentication, a Video Driver, chatting (instead of Notepad chat :) ) and a Repeater option for large networks like ours.

On top of all of this the sister project PcHelpWare aims to take on LogMeIn Rescue and other big boys in this area. PcHelpWare is a single click Reverse VNC Server. Technically I would run the server, our clients would run a client, but the client gives ME remote access of their computer!

Once I have this working I will report back how to set it up and how useful it is. Hopefully I can save my company $99.00 a month in software fees, and a lot of my time driving to clients offices.

Touch 2.00

This is an update to my previous post "Touch for Windows". Johan now has a handy installer and rewritten Touch in C#. To top everything off he has also released the code for Touch 2.00 so you can make changes / improvements. I might take a look and see if I can port this over to VB.Net 2005 as well. Below is an excerp from his site

"This utility can set the date and time of a file. It was originally written in Visual C++ and has been ported to C#. The source code is included.
I wrote this program mainly to show how easy it is to set the date and time of a file. I’ve seen overly complicated ways of programming touch and this source should show how simple it is with .NET 2.0.
You can get the file by clicking here."

Monday, December 04, 2006

Subnetting using the Shortcut Table

In trying to pass exams I keep needing to do subnetting. I like the "Shortcut Table" method, but as time passes I forget it and need to look it up online. MC MCSE has a good article on this method.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Zune Windows XP Desktop Theme

Microsoft has released a new Theme for Windows XP. It is a pretty dark theme (maybe a precursor to Vista) with an orange Start button. The Zune theme can be downloaded here.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

SMB IT Management software

Recently (today 11-15-06) if found out about a nice piece of free (as in beer) software to help manage our IT environment. Spiceworks Desktop is impressing me a whole lot right now. It does auto discovery of the network (including remote subnets) and brings back lots of useful information. It (apparently) runs on "Ruby on Rails" but I have not verified that yet. Dispite a little bit of troubleshooting everything has been working very well.

They seem to have a growing community of users that make suggestions for improvements / bugs and the developers actually read and fix the issues. Hopefully soon this product will grow to support more than one (1) IT professional. Check back later and I should have a better understanding / shortcoming list of the product.

Monday, October 30, 2006

One more reason to Develop on Vista

IIS 7!!! I cannot wait to get my hands on Vista with IIS7.

Easy ways to defeat FTP dictionary attacks

Today's how to are some simple tips to keeping your FTP site secure.
  1. Do not run an anonymous FTP site.
  2. Change / Disable the root / administrator name.
  3. Keep all user names more than just a first name.
  4. Do not use "New User" or "Computer".
  5. Review FTP logs daily to make sure all other defenses are working.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Going Away!

I will be away for a while. I am getting married at the end of this week (October 13th, 2006) and then I am going on my Honeymoon to Cancun for a week. I have been busy with all the planning and such lately which is why I have not posted for a while. I should be back to posting by October 25th at the latest!


Tuesday, October 03, 2006

PhishTank Out of the Net, into the Tank

The awesome people over at OpenDNS have started a new project call PhishTank. The purpose of this site is to catalog & make available phishing sites in order to filter them out of the Net.

I am just waiting now for someone to write an Outlook Plug-in to automagically send suspected phishing e-mails to the site for verification.

I love products and services that make use of the "horde" mentality. Lets just hope that the big boys like Microsoft figure out a away to intergrate IE7's phishing filter with this site as well.

The only downfall I could see to this service is if the Phishers themselves where verifying the sites as Good or worse yet set up bot nets to do mass verification.

Monday, October 02, 2006

An App A Day

Dana Hanna has taken the challenge to write a small software application everyday for a month. You can find his site here.
Specifically I like the "Jedi Concentrate" & "Jedi Console". I may also look into "Quickkill" for my gaming system.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Making the Switch: Debian Linux

I have recently moved one of our workstations from Windows XP to Debian Linux. Upon booting the system I was watching the screen to see "Starting Apple Talk, this may take a while" or something to that effect.
I then went out to the World Wide Web to figure out how to remove this VERY unnecessary service. The answer that I was seeking is a command for the apt-get program. It is a very simple command: apt-get remove netatalk. Now when I ran this I was not root, so I had to do sudo apt-get remove netatalk. I also do not like being asked if it is OK to do the command I just told the computer to do so I also used the -y switch to answer YES to all questions. In the end my command was sudo apt-get -y remove netatalk.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Vigilante: End-to-End Containment of Internet Worms

Microsoft Vigilante: End-to-End Containment of Internet Worms
I came across this last night. I would like to get this type of application in Beta so we can start working on a self healing network. The concept sounds very interesting and is something that the Internet is in need of right now. Why be in a constant state of reaction when you could have your computers doing it automattically. Why always worry about the next big virus to hit, when the network itself is more like an imune system than todays mess.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Tizag Tutorials

I just wanted to publically thank for the excellent Tutorials that they offer. I often find when I am programming that they have the answers I am looking for. Today I needed something about PHP and Google found the answer for me on Tizag’s website. I know I have been there in the past as well when looking for a how to in basic programming.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Registry Cleaners

I have to agree Ed Botts "Why I don’t use registry cleaners". I should preempt that with; I don't use any third party Registry cleaners. I used to use Microsoft’s, before they stopped offering it.
I would urge people to NOT "optimize" their registries. I have yet to see any significant results from any cleaning/optimization I have ever done. I have however had very bad things happen after running some of these programs. I would avoid them at all costs.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Internet Explorer 7 RC1 Update

I have been running IE 7 since its first Beta. I have seen many of the changes come down the pipe. With this last update I have seen NOTHING noticable change between the last beta and Release Canidate 1. The only thing I have noticed change but am not sure of when is the Uninstaller. Between Beta 1 and Beta 2 you had to uninstall IE but had to check the "Show Updates" in Add/Remove Programs. Now it is just listed as a Program.

Touch for Windows

My buddy over at has released a basic version of touch for Windows.
You can find his blog post here and you can download it here.

I will admit that it is no where near as full featured as the Linux version of touch but it is better than nothing.

An easy way to install this utility since it comes with no installer is to use this command from the folder: "copy touch.exe %windir%".

Now when ever you need to reach out and touch something you need to only type the command.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Restarting Microsoft SQL Server 2000 via Scripts

I have noticed that SQL server sucks up most of our Servers RAM by the end of a business day. I have since implemented a simple batch file to run twice a day, once at 06:00 and the second time at 18:00 before our nightly backup.

The basis of this script is the NET command. The Net command has a plethora of sub commands such as Stop, Start, user, use, view, accounts, and so on. An overview of each command can be found here. But we will be using only two of these commands, NET STOP and NET START.

Since the SQL Server Agent (SQLSERVERAGENT) is dependent on SQL Server (MSSQLSERVER) we need to stop it before we do anything with SQL Server. The command to stop a service is NET STOP and in this case we want the Service Name and not the display name. To find the Service name you can right click on the Service and go to properties. On the General Tab the first field is the Service name. We want SQLSERVERAGENT so our command will be NET STOP SQLSERVERAGENT. After the server agent is stopped we can stop the server itself with NET STOP MSSQLSERVER. Then we need to do the reverse of this and run NET START MSSQLSERVER followed by NET START SQLSERVERAGENT.

Our batch file is going to look like this then:





Another command we could use from a remote workstation such as our Administrator’s workstation is the SC command. We will still need to know the service name to use the SC command but there is only one difference. That difference is now we need to specify the server/workstation that we want to control the services of. The server name will be in the form of \\SERVERNAME.

This time our script would look like





Again the SC command has a lot more it can do but that is all the time we have to cover it now. If you want to learn more about the SC command you can visit this web site.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Implementing OpenDNS to enhance Enterprise DNS Resolution

We use OpenDNS as our forwarders here for a few reasons. One they are much faster at what they do than our ISP. Two they don’t drop requests for resolution like our ISP does. Three it is much faster than using Root Hints to resolve and cache manually. Four by combining resolution requests from around the country (globe soon) we can all get better resolution.

Setting this up for an Active Directory enterprise is easy. For each of your DNS servers of which you should have at least two, open up the DNS Management Console, right click on the server and choose Properties. Go to the Forwarders tab and check the box for “Enable Forwarders”. Now add in two IP address for the OpenDNS servers. The IP addresses that you want are and Now whenever your server has a resolution request that it cannot fulfill it will look to the OpenDNS servers instead of using root hints to resolve the query.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Manually trigger Active Directory© Replication

Scenario: A new workstation is being placed at the user’s desk. The new user does not have an account in Active Directory and they are in a different site.
How to: Using the Windows 2000 support tools I use Active Directory Site and Services. Expand “Sites”, Expand the site you want to replicate with, Expand Servers, Expand the server(s) that you want to replicate with, Expand NTDS Settings, Right click on the connection (typically “” and choose “Replicate Now”
Do this for all of the sites and/or servers that need the replicated data.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Creating Themes for Adenium Systems Document Fulfillment System©


One would create themes for DFS for a couple of reasons.

1.A customer is requesting special Graphics, logos, text, anything out of the ordinary.

2.For testing purposes. Every theme in DFS is separate from the other themes. This will allow you to keep an untouched copy, typically “dfstheme”. We do not run any portals out of “dfstheme”, instead we run most of them out of “DFS”, with a few customer that have their own theme, and I have my development theme, with its own fake company for development and testing.


First you copy all of the files from /dfstheme to a new folder named whatever you want the new theme to be called. Then you go into “Internet Services Manager”, expand the Default Web site if that is where the theme is stored. Right click on the folder and go to “Properties”. In the “Application Name” area of that window click the “Create” button to create an application. Then click on the “ASP.NET” tab. Make sure that the “ASP.NET version” is set to a least 2.0.50727.

Next copy and paste this script into Microsoft SQL Query Analyzer


-- Dumping data for table 'Portal_Themes'—

INSERT INTO Portal_Themes (Id, Status, Display_Name, Description, URL, App_Name, APP_Startup_Page, Internal_IP)

VALUES('NEWDFSTHEME', 1, 'Plans Direct Theme', 'Description', 'http://localhost/', 'NEWDFSTHEME', 'Default.aspx', 'localhost')


-- Dumping data for table 'Portal_Theme_Elements'--

INSERT INTO Portal_Theme_Elements (Id, Portal_Theme_Id, Display_Name, Description, Element_Name, Element_Type, Sequence)

VALUES('NEWDFSTHEME_CONTENT_AREA', 'NEWDFSTHEME', 'Content', 'Content Area', 'ContentArea', 3, 8)


INSERT INTO Portal_Theme_Elements (Id, Portal_Theme_Id, Display_Name, Description, Element_Name, Element_Type, Sequence)

VALUES('NEWDFSTHEME_DESCRIPTION', 'NEWDFSTHEME', 'Description', 'Description Text', 'DescriptionTxt', 1, 9)


INSERT INTO Portal_Theme_Elements (Id, Portal_Theme_Id, Display_Name, Description, Element_Name, Element_Type, Sequence)

VALUES('NEWDFSTHEME_ERROR_TEXT', 'NEWDFSTHEME', 'Error Text', 'Error Text', 'ErrorTxt', 1, 1)


INSERT INTO Portal_Theme_Elements (Id, Portal_Theme_Id, Display_Name, Description, Element_Name, Element_Type, Sequence)

VALUES('NEWDFSTHEME_PAGEHEADER_AREA', 'NEWDFSTHEME', 'Page Header', 'Page Header Area', 'PageheaderArea', 3, 4)


INSERT INTO Portal_Theme_Elements (Id, Portal_Theme_Id, Display_Name, Description, Element_Name, Element_Type, Sequence)

VALUES('NEWDFSTHEME_PRIMARY_AREA', 'NEWDFSTHEME', 'Primary Area', 'Primary Area', 'PrimaryArea', 3, 5)


INSERT INTO Portal_Theme_Elements (Id, Portal_Theme_Id, Display_Name, Description, Element_Name, Element_Type, Sequence)

VALUES('NEWDFSTHEME_PRODUCT_TITLE', 'NEWDFSTHEME', 'Product Title', 'Product Title', 'ProductTitleTxt', 1, 10)


INSERT INTO Portal_Theme_Elements (Id, Portal_Theme_Id, Display_Name, Description, Element_Name, Element_Type, Sequence)

VALUES('NEWDFSTHEME_SECONDARY_AREA', 'NEWDFSTHEME', 'Secondary Area', 'Secondary Area', 'SecondaryArea', 3, 6)


INSERT INTO Portal_Theme_Elements (Id, Portal_Theme_Id, Display_Name, Description, Element_Name, Element_Type, Sequence)

VALUES('NEWDFSTHEME_TABLE_COL_HDR_TEXT', 'NEWDFSTHEME', 'Column Header Text', 'Table Column Header Text', 'TableColumnHeadTxt', 3, 7)


INSERT INTO Portal_Theme_Elements (Id, Portal_Theme_Id, Display_Name, Description, Element_Name, Element_Type, Sequence)

VALUES('NEWDFSTHEME_SEARCH_AREA', 'NEWDFSTHEME', 'Search Area', 'Search Area Background Color', 'SearchArea', 3, 8)


::End Code::

Now when you go into DFS Library Manager you should see your new theme as an option for any existing Portals or any New portals.

Download SQL Script

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

The Beauty of Active Directory Sites

The real beauty of Sites in Microsoft Active Directory is the ability to change replication times and Group Policy Objects.

We are a small company with around 30 employees TOTAL. Most share computers and few have private log-ins. Not much changes in any office, so why update the other Domain Controllers every three hours? My point exactly. Currently set up is an 8 hour replication time with 10am to 2pm not available for replication Monday through Friday. Saturday and Sunday is not available the entire day due to Offsite backups.

We have four offices, with three of them not staffed by IT. This means that when we get a chance to get out of the office and visit these other offices there are always more problems than reported and WE come under prepared for the tasks.

Currently in development is locking down these other offices to the point of doing their respective jobs, but not to the point of being the “All seeing Big Brother”. Spyware is our biggest problem followed by time wasting internet surfing, especially to Poker sites.

Active Directory allows me to set Group Policy on these other sites to disallow certain things and force certain things. One of the things that I force is Automatic Updates. Currently set to download and install every day at 3am. Also set to look at our Microsoft Windows Server Update Services Server.