Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Baby Steps - A simpler way to convert video for portable devices

Videora Converter - FREE (no skill required)

"It allows you to convert your regular PC video files (avi, mpeg, etc) into the proper video format that your mobile or fixed video device understands. Each version is tailored specifically to the device in question."

This is a suite of applications specifically tuned to the device you want to create video for. So there is a seperate download for each application depending on your device.

This covers the IPOD, IPhone, PSP, XBox 360, Tivo, and PMP.

For more advanced options and in many cases better quality results, check out my post for MPLAYER and the MeWiG GUI (some PC skill required)

ophcrack, all is not lost

Remember Lophtcrack, that's all that's left, a memory. Symantec stopped development. I ran into a few situations where customers needed access to PCs where they didn't have access to the admin password. In both cases an employee left the company and did not pass on the admin passwords. I have 2 solutions that may help.

This is essentially a 2 step process.

1.) get the SAM file from the machine you are locked out of.

2.) Use one of the 2 methods below to crack the file.

A third method involves just replacing the ADMIN password.

» Runs on Windows, Linux and Mac OS X (intel).
» Cracks LM and NTLM hashes.
» Free tables available for alphanumeric LM hashes.
» Loads hashes from local SAM, remote SAM.
» Loads hashes from encrypted SAM recovered from a Windows partition, Vista included.

LC5 attacks your Windows machine with a combination of dictionary and brute force attacks.
LC5 can crack almost all common passwords in seconds. More advanced passwords with numbers and characters takes longer.
The main purpose of the LCP program is user account passwords auditing and recovery in Windows NT/2000/XP.

Another alternative is to simply reset the Admin password:

Your my favorite, I wish I could remember your name

Favorites Plus

The is a free bookmark export tool similar to the one that comes with IE but with some very nice features.
The feature I find most beneficial is the ability to create drop down lists.

My brother recently wanted to show me some pictures of his sons baseball team on the Internet. The problem is he couldn't remember the URL. Even when he found the site hosting the pictures he couldn't locate what he was looking for. If he exported the bookmarks to a web site he could have navigated right to it.

Many times you don't want to share company internal bookmarks. Favorites Plus is a nice way for you to seperate it out.

There are other ways to achieve the same results using social bookmarking sites such as site bar.

Here is a list from WikiPedia : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_bookmarking

Monday, November 26, 2007

When your bad your bad, when your good your good

...... FREE

COMODO Firewall PRO - security from the inside out
For all practical purposes you don't need a 3rd party firewall to protect yourself from outside threats. The problem is if you do run into a security problem you likely invited them in.

If you downloaded or installed software or possibly loaded that new codex to a media player from a less than reputable site you could be compromised.

COMODO can help (lets just say, can be the bearer of bad news).

Clean PC Mode takes a snap shot of your installation and alerts you we something new is installed.

Host Intrusion Prevention System does exactly that, prevents modifications of key operating files and prevents access to key systems. This is nice in that when you install new applications if they try to run astray you are aware of what it is trying to modify.

Application Behavior Analysis alerts you when something is trying to call home.

The program even has a very large application recognition database to help minimize the fatigue caused by other firewalls when you have to respond to false alarms.

For a complete list of features please see the web site.

Smart Pop-up Alerts – Tell you what you need to know, fast!!

Smell something bad. It's not from this onion.

Tor is a network of virtual tunnels that allows people and groups to improve their privacy and security on the Internet.

It also enables software developers to create new communication tools with built-in privacy features. Tor provides the foundation for a range of applications that allow organizations and individuals to share information over public networks without compromising their privacy.

Tor allows clients and relays to offer hidden services. That is, you can offer a web server, SSH server, etc., without revealing your IP address to its users. In fact, because you don't use any public address, you can run a hidden service from behind your firewall.

Staying anonymous
Tor can't solve all anonymity problems. It focuses only on protecting the transport of data. You need to use protocol-specific support software if you don't want the sites you visit to see your identifying information. For example, you can use web proxies such as Privoxy while web browsing to block cookies and withhold information about your browser type.

Also, to protect your anonymity, be smart. Don't provide your name or other revealing information in web forms. Be aware that, like all anonymizing networks that are fast enough for web browsing, Tor does not provide protection against end-to-end timing attacks: If your attacker can watch the traffic coming out of your computer, and also the traffic arriving at your chosen destination, he can use statistical analysis to discover that they are part of the same circuit.

I am far from a security expert. My understanding of TOR is that it creates a tunnel where the data is encrypted once it hits the first router and is passed to multiple routers and handed back off to the destination unencrypted of course. The TOR web site shows you are encypted leaving your browser. I need to run some tests to see if this is true and I will update the blog later with the results. Read the link below for more details. I will include a article later on testing your TOR as well.

Warning: Want Tor to really work?

Basically this ensures your privacy from the far end web site. Your data and URL history (Destination IPaddress and or DNSname) still passes through your corprate network and DNS servers or local internet service provider unencrypted. You aren't hiding anything,this is simply securing your privacy from the far end. Privoxy will also help to ensure your privacy by blocking browser info and cookies.

The bad thing is that all of your internet traffic will use the TOR network and you don't know who the owners of the TOR routers are. In the work environment this is a serious problem because you could be compromising your companys security and your own. I take pride in my work and who I work for.

Monday, November 19, 2007

I better way to install software safely and securely

Have you ever download a application and weren't sure if you can trust it? Now you can take the worry out of the process.

Altiris Software Virtualization Solution 2.0

This software allows you to create something similar to VMware where you can install your software in a virtual environment without the complexity of a VMware. VMware is an entire virtual computer where Altiris is a virtual software environment. This also allows you to move software installations between PCs or across networks.

PC magazine Review:
"Anybody can use Altiris Software Virtualization Solution 2.0 to put a safety wrapper around software installations and to package installations for import on other computers."

The software is free and simple to use. The explanation on the web site is complex and really focused towards a professional IT guy.

Free personal download:

Life comes full circle - ORB personal media broadcasting - FREE

Broadcast your movies, TV, and other media content anywhere for FREE.

What VLC does ORB does well and is easy to setup. ORB is dependent on a Streaming media source to make it work.

The Orb application is free. There are no fees for MyCasting. You need a home pc to get setup, and can use any web-enabled media player with streaming capabilities to remotely play the media. VLC is a good start.

Your computer broadcasts the media you choose that is stored on your PC. You can stream content through any internet device. This works with mobile phones, PDAs, laptops or any other computer.

There is no software installation required on the receiving web device. You can broadcast photos, music, videos, and even live TV. You can use this to view documents as well.

ORB instructions and recommendations.


Sunday, November 18, 2007

Now go play with your power toys - Virtually

Extend your Desktop with Power Toys for Windows

The link below allows you to choose your version of XP (Tablet, Standard, Media Center)

The purpose of this blog entry is to point out a nice virtual desktop manager for XP. This allows you to have linux style virtual desktops on windows XP.

Virtual Desktop Manager

Manage up to four desktops from the Windows taskbar with this PowerToy.

Once you install the Virtual Desktop Manager you right click on your task bar then select Tool bars menu then drop down to Desktop Manager. Then the Desktop manager should appear on your tool bar to the right.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Get Down with Download Manager


DownloadHelper is a free Firefox extension for downloading flash videos and images from many sites with minimum effort.

You can save videos from sites where there is no option to download the movie to your hard disk. DownloadHelper works on YouTube, MySpace, Google videos, DailyMotion, Porkolt, iFilm, DreamHost and many others: check here for a longer list of supported sites.

It is also possible to capture all the images from a gallery in a single operation.

Play your newly captured flash file with mplayer or IrfanView.

Here is a post with stand alone FLV players:

Finally a DIRECTX 10 card worth buying

ASUS Radeon HD 3870 512MB G-DDR4

This is under $200 and goes head to head with the big boys.
It also consumes 1/3 less power which means less heat, longer life, and a smaller utility bill.

Check out the reviews.

Do you want to get High End

This looks like a great system for the money but its not really for those on a budget. I get asked all the time what system to buy for a gamer under $2000. I know what your thinking but I love my parents none the less. I was browsing NewEgg and found this Gem. You can put together a system yourself for less but for those of you who aren't so inclined, here it is.

Its has a great motherboard, very good power supply, nice case, and everything else is just about perfect. This is built and ready to go. The brand name in this case has nothing to do with the great choice of components for the money. I would get a DVD Burner but if he doesn't burn DVDs its not necessary.



Thursday, November 15, 2007

Paranoid - Look what we Un-Rooted

Anti RootKit Tools:

The PC and Windows operating system is a extremely complicated system. The Nerd Herd can't save you this time. It's going to be up to you to find out whats running on your machine and why. If it isn't needed you need to permanently remove it. The problem is the rootkit. There can be hidden processes and registry entries that run without your knowledge or permission. They eat up system resources. Since they are hidden they are likely used for illegal activity like spam mail and identity theft. The links below can tell you if there is a problem and in some cases bail you out of trouble. The real problem is if you find a rootkit you need to re-install the OS to be truly safe.

AntirootkitAVG Anti-Rootkit Free


Just discovered that with RootKit Revealer and I'm sure it was not there a couple of weeks ago:
HKLM\Security\Policy\Secrets\SAC* Key name contains embedded nulls
HKLM\Security\Policy\Secrets\SAI* Key name contains embedded nulls
These above entries are normal and you do not want to remove them from the registry.

Of course these keys are not visible with RegEdit
You can see those entries by running RegEdit under the system account with this trick:

At command line enter:
at 10:15am /interactive regedit.exe

Subsitute the time with appropriate value one minute greater than current time. RegEdit will start at the given time and you'll be able to see HKLM\Security\Policy\Secrets and many others.

Sophos Anti-Rootkit


Panda Anti-Rootkit


Trend Micro RootkitBuster 1.6 Beta

Using Blacklight to detect and remove Rootkits from your computer

McAfee Rootkit Detective Beta

System Virginity Verifier

Hidden Registry Enties:

RegReveal v1.0 beta2c
RegReveal - a small rootkit registry revealerReveal hidden registry entries.
RegReveal supports Windows 2000 and Windows XP
RegReveal is a command line program.

SysInternals Hidden Registry Keys:
Download RegHide (24KB)

Note of interest (use a rootkit to your advantage):


World of Warcraft hackers have confirmed that the hiding capabilities of Sony BMG's content protection software can make tools made for cheating in the online world impossible to detect. The software--deemed a "rootkit" by many security experts--is shipped with tens of thousands of the record company's music titles.

Blizzard Entertainment, the maker of World of Warcraft, has created a controversial program that detects cheaters by scanning the processes that are running at the time the game is played. Called the Warden, the anti-cheating program cannot detect any files that are hidden with Sony BMG's content protection, which only requires that the hacker add the prefix "$sys$" to file names.

You have the Audacity

Audacity is free, software for recording and editing audio.
It is cross platform. Windows, Mac, Linux

Record live audio.

Convert tapes and records into digital recordings or CDs.

Edit Ogg Vorbis, MP3, and WAV sound files.

Cut, copy, splice, and mix sounds together.

Change the speed or pitch of a recording. - this can help in learning or you can get through content faster. This can also helps a bit for you men out there who have difficulty hearing high pitched sounds. I think we developed this over thousands of years of evolution as a psychological defense mechanism.

Learn more about Audacity...


Forum for more information.

Mathcad Free

MATH is OpenOffice.org's component for mathematical equations. It is most commonly used as an equation editor for text documents, but it can also be used with other types of documents or stand-alone. When used inside WRITER, the equation is treated as an object inside the text document. Similarly, one can also insert these into other OpenOffice.org programs like CALC and IMPRESS.
Using MATH, there are three main ways of entering a formula:
Type markup in the equation editor.
Right-click on the equation editor and select the symbol from the context menu.
Select a symbol from the Selection toolbox.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Pocket PC into a Graphical calculator

Turning your Pocket PC into a graphical calculator is easy and free.

Can you use it on that test? I'm sure you can argue your case. Bare minimum you will get some Geek respect from that math teacher.

http://www.hpcalc.org/ has the links you need. The newest addition section has the link to the download.

Here is the link to download.

There are variations to the base calculator.
Here is more to look at:

HP calc programs turning you Pocket PC into a graphical calc

more online calculators

Monday, November 12, 2007

Media Portal - What a Freaking Nightmare

Media Portal is a rip off of Windows Media Center even in how poorly it functions.

The interface is very similar to Windows Media Center. So much so that I would call it a copyright infringement. The controls are erratic and in most cases unusable and unstable. The nice thing about media portal is that it doesn't cause a blue screen like media center, it simply locks up requiring you to kill the process. Another negative point is you can't play DVDs from your hard drive. You can't even select the directory in an attempt to play the files.

If you need a free DVD player this might be a poor alternative. Not much else worked.

Didn't we go to the moon?
I'm sure we did. The only proof I can come up with is the retroreflector. The story behind this is an interseting one.

Retroreflectors on the Moon

Why can't someone make a good media center for the PC.


MediaPortal is an Open Source application ideal for turning your PC / TV into a very advanced Media Center. MediaPortal allows you to listen to your favorite music & radio, watch and store your videos and DVDs, view, schedule and record live TV as a digital video recorder and much much more.

Free iPod Video Converter


Free iPod Video Converter provides an easy and completed way to convert all popular video formats to iPod video.

Supports DVD/VCD and AVI, MPEG, WMV, RM, RMVB, DivX, ASF, VOB video files to your iPod with few clicks. The program is a freeware and does not contain any form of malware, including but not limited to: spyware, viruses, trojans and backdoors.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Reuse that old supply

You can use a old supply to run devices such as a water cooling system or anything that needs 12 volts by following the steps mentioned below.

This is also a good method to test a supply before you plug it to the main board.

Using something such as a thin wire/paper clip, short pin 14 [PS ON] for the 20 pin connector or Pin 16 on the 24 pin connector to any one of the pins with the black [ground/return] wires.

There are no voltages that can hurt you on any of the pins but if you short the wrong one you could blow out the supply or trip a breaker.

The first ten pins from the orange wire end are the same for the 20 and 24 pin connector Just that what is pin 11 for the 20 pin connector becomes pin 13 on the 24 pin connector. Shown below is a 20 pin connector.

More resources:


Free Document Templates

Did you ever need to write that bill of sale and all of the sudden realize why you didn't make it into law school. Judge Judy would burst a vein if she read a rental agreement I would come up with. Let experts in many fields take the worry and embarrassment out of doing business for you. These sites are what the Internet is all about.

http://www.scribd.com/ - Scribd gives you advise and info on a wide range of topics. I typed "car loan" and was presented with documents on how to set up your own loan agreement to how to prepare to sell your car. It's like having Dads advise on the Internet.

http://www.docstoc.com/ - Docstoc is a resource for professional documents.

http://www.gazhoo.com/ - Gazhoo is a marketplace where experts upload their documents and people in need pay a small fee to access it. This is a library of document on many topics and subjects. I wouldn't submit a term paper downloaded from this site but it would make a great reference.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

How serious are you about security?


You may be serious about security but knowing what you are doing is another story. This is more than a plug and play application and require some networking and PC skill to implement correctly. There is nothing worse than to think you are safe when you left you keys in the locked door. This product is focused at small and medium business and the home version is free. There is a question whether you need another layer of security. For the business its not only important to secure your network from the outside but its just as important to keep confidential files secure on the inside of your network. Just because your business is small doesn't mean you are one big happy family. This will go in my really Geeky category.

Astaro Security Gateway Software Appliance – Turns any PC into a security appliance within minutes, offering maximum deployment flexibility. Download your trial version of the Astaro Security Gateway Software Appliance here.
These links bring you to a page to get a login. Once you get a login you can follow my link at the bottom of this post to jump to the free software.

Astaro Security Gateway Virtual Appliance – Ready-to-go virtual machines for VMware environments, helping you to consolidate your IT infrastructure. Download your trial version of the Astaro Security Gateway Virtual Appliance here.

What does it do?
With Astaro Security Gateway Network Protection, network administrators gain a simple and effective way to:

Control network access
. Use the latest stateful deep inspection firewall techniques to control user access in regard to specific information and access times, access times and usage of IM and P2P applications.
Stop intruders. Implement state of the art intrusion prevention technology for in-depth filtering, protecting against more than 6,000 attacks as well as zero day attacks.
Secure remote access. Use SSL, IPSec, L2TP or PPTP protocols to create secure virtual private networks, connecting branch offices and granting remote access to workers.
Optimize performance. Leverage our patent-pending content inspection framework to scan traffic with little or no latency and reserve bandwidth for time-sensitive applications such as VoIP.

Astaro Network Protection

Why should you use it?
Astaro Security Gateway provides complete protection for your network through a single, easy-to-manage solution, featuring a Firewall, Intrusion Prevention and VPN application.
Eliminating the administrative burden and integration issues associated with separate point products, Astaro Security Gateway delivers a fully integrated state-of-the art network protection solution.

The software is free for home use. The link is a little hard to find. They offer a ISO CD download and a VMware version.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

GIMP Screen Capture in Windows

Gimp has a very useful screen capture function under the "acquire" from the main toolbox menu. You select "screen shot" and it lets you choose a window or the full screen. The timer option gives you a chance to get set up before you take the shot. The window option uses a drag and drop crosshair to make the selection.

I will show you another method to select a part of that window and save it to a JPG file.

Steps 1 - 4 can be done with the acquire function mentioned above. The reason I'm showing you this method is so you can get familiar with the size options. The ability to manipulate the screen size in pixels as well as inches is unique.

1.) Determine you display resolution by right clicking on the screen and choose PROPERTIES, then SETTINGS. From the screen capture below you see 1400 x 1050 resolution.

2.) CTRL PrintScreen - captures your entire screen to the clip board. I captured my writing this blog post with the gimp toolbar visible. I will cut out and save just the GIMP toolbar next.

3.) On the GIMP toolbar select new image and set the box size to equal your screen resolution.

4.) Paste the image into the new box. (this can also be done using Print Screen Button and the "acquire -> then paste as new")

5.) Now you have a full screen image. To select an area you need to select Layer from the GIMP menu and Anchor Layer.

6.) Now you can use the selection tool to select an area and cut or copy it.

7.) Go to your GIMP tool bar and select new again and the window will pop up in the exact size of the area you just cut or copied.

8.) Paste it into the new window.

9.) Now just save it to the file format of your choice and you are done.
In my case I chose JPG and Export and I was done.

The process seems long but takes about 10 seconds. If you do a lot of this I would suggest you use one of the screen capture utilities I recommend in an earlier post.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Synergy in the workplace, not what you think?

Synergy allows you to share the same keyboard and mouse across multiple PCs across a network connection.

The process is actually quite simple but Synergy also does it quite well. The program works cross platform with any OS. You can even share the clip board. You tell the application which machine is the server. That machine is the one that has the keyboard and mouse attached. Then you tell the program what machine you will be taking over the contols when your mouse passes the edge of your screen.

Does this replace a KVM switch?
Not really, you still need a keyboard and mouse attached to each computer. Secondly it doesn't support multibox gaming. I have a program I'm working on that will support multibox if I can generate enough interest in it. Right now it can run a macro that controls keystrokes and mouse movements. Synergy sometimes has issues connecting to the server where I find a reboot of one or both systems is required.

Download for Windows - SynergyInstaller-1.3.1.exe

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Take a Note

What we are looking at today are tools to improve productivity and to allow you to work more efficiently with fewer disasters. When I say tools I really mean the line up of front runner replacements for a staple program that most people use everyday.


NotePad adheres to a few rules, fast, simple, and lightweight. I will add a few more. What ever you open in notepad isn't going to reek havoc on your machine. The file size is small. The txt format is a standard but you can save with any extention.

So why use a replacement? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. The replacements offer many features that puts more power at our finger tips. Because there are feature differences I choose to point out the ones that do the most with the least amount of skill required to operate.

Most of these are FREE.

Notepad ++ - Open Source notepad app that goes beyond the definition of notepad. This is a easy install, go with the defaults and its ready to use.

For most people this is a nice editor but in my extensive testing it was prone to crashing and locking up. Also when copying over special characters it stops at the first special character and you loose the rest. Both of these are major bugs and makes this unusable.

Download - Executable

Here are the features of Notepad++ :
Syntax Highlighting and Syntax Folding - supporting many programming languages
User Defined Syntax Highlighting
Multi-Document - a must have for a notepad replacement
You can edit several documents at the same time.
You have two views at same time. That means you can visualize (edit) 2 different documents at the same time (screenshot). You can visualize (edit) in the 2 views one document at 2 different positions as well. The modification of document in one view will carry out in another view (i.e. you modify the SAME document when you are in clone mode, see screenshot).
Regular Expression Search/Replace supported - extremely nice feature
Full Drag ‘N' Drop supported - sort of brings it out of the realm of a note pad
Dynamic position of Views
File Status Auto-detection - nice feature that can sometimes save you and can sometimes be the end of you if you don't pay attention.
Zoom in and zoom out
Multi-Language environment supported
Bookmark - again goes beyond a simple notepad
Brace and Indent guideline Highlighting
Macro recording and playback - not sure who would need this
You can save several macros and edit their keyboard shortcuts for the next use.


Notepad2 - this lives up to the notepad replacement philosophy, small, fast, and simple. The one drawback, it does not use tabs. It does have html highlighting.


Metapad - they haven't sold me but there is nothing stopping you from trying it.

Metapad is a small, fast (and completely free) text editor for Windows 9x/NT/XP with similar features to Microsoft Notepad but with many extra (and rather useful) features.

This guy has a few nice apps - http://www.paehl.de/english.php

SimpEdit 1.0.053 - is a notepad replacement with a built in Hexeditor (great idea)


PSPad - another editor that has built in FTP and a HexEdit feature as well. The interface may be too busy to call this a notepad replacement.

spell checker - might be useful, God knows I need it.

Here are some of its features:
Work on several documents at the same time
Save desktop session to later reopen all open files
FTP client - you can edit files directly from the web
Macro recorder to record, save and load macros
Search and replace in files
Text difference with color-coded differences highlighted
Templates (HTML tags, scripts, code templates...)
installation contains templates for HTML, PHP, Pascal, JScript, VBScript, MySQL, MS-Dos, Perl,...
Syntax highlighting auto set by file type
Auto correction
Intelligent internal HTML preview using IE and Mozilla
Full HEX editor
Spell checker


EditPad Lite - Free for personal use (non-commercial)
Again here is a great program that has many powerful features that can be very useful to a web admin. The one feature I enjoy is a find and replace that will span over all of your open documents if you choose. It you have to admin tons of files this can make it well worth the price for the pro version, not really.

They want a whopping $50 for this thing. I would buy it at $10, no questions asked even though I use Edit+. This is another example where programmers look to cover the cost of business with corporate sales and in the long run the corporate red tape will make them the looser.


EditPad Lite is a general-purpose text editor, designed to be small and compact, yet offer all the functionality you expect from a basic text editor. EditPad Lite works with Windows NT4, 98, 2000, ME, XP and Vista.
EditPad Lite is free for non-commercial use. That is, you may use EditPad Lite if you do not get paid, directly or indirectly, for the work you do with EditPad Lite. Registered charities may also use EditPad Lite. If you want more editing power or need a text editor to use at work, check out
EditPad Pro.

EDIT+ (my recommendation)

If you work is mission critical and you need a powerful notepad this is well worth the money.

http://www.editplus.com/ - maybe too much going on to be considered a notepad replacement but this is the one I use and I paid the $30 for the privilege. Is it the best? Probably not but I have to use it all day long and I like the built in features. Its easy to use right out of the gate.

1-user license: US $30 - I would go with $18 if this were my product

EditPlus is an Internet-ready 32-bit text editor, HTML editor and programmers editor for Windows. While it can serve as a good replacement for Notepad, it also offers many powerful features for Web page authors and programmers.

Syntax highlighting for HTML, CSS, PHP, ASP, Perl, C/C++, Java, JavaScript and VBScript. Also, it can be extended for other programming languages based on custom syntax files.

Seamless Web browser for previewing HTML pages, and FTP commands for uploading local files to FTP server.

Other features include HTML toolbar, user tools, line number, ruler, URL highlighting, auto-completion, cliptext, column selection, powerful search and replace, multiple undo/redo, spell checker, customizable keyboard shortcuts, and more.


For the MegaHigh Tech


http://www.scintilla.org/SciTE.html - source code editor - this can work as a notepad replacement and is extremely powerful but I found the initial configuration to be a bit beyond the normal or even semi-pro skill set.


Kedit - a windows based Vi like editor that has one very nice feature. A built in command line

Kedit has command line editing similiar to Vi. Its really a macro facility built on REXX. Check out the features page for more on this amazing editor.


Full List of editors: