Saturday, September 11, 2010

Accessing the Advanced User Account Control Panel and enabling Auto-Login in XP and Vista

The Advanced User Account Control Panel is not directly available in Windows XP or Vista. However you can start it using the following command: control userpasswords2

A nice function on this panel is to activate Auto-Login: Uncheck Users must enter a user name and password to use this computer. Afterwards you will be asked to provide the password of the account you want to login with.

You can create a shortcut to this command making it easier to access the control panel whenever you want.

Note: In Vista you may use alternatively the following command: netplwiz

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Keep PIM data when deleting Active Sync partnership on Windows Mobile smartphone

Unfortunatelly in Windows Mobile 6.0 and 6.1 the PIM data synchronized with a computer are deleted when you delete the sync partnership.

Here's an easy way how to keep those data when deleting the partnership:
  1. Start File Explorer and make a copy of the pim file in the root of your device's file system (actually the file is called pim.vol, but the ending is not displayed).
  2. Run the Active Sync program on your Windows Mobile phone, go to the Options menu and delete the sync partnership. Ignore the warning that your synchronized data will be deleted and continue.
  3. Go back to the File Explorer and restore the pim file backed up previously. If you can't override the current file, you may first change its name (to pim2.vol, for example).
  4. Shut down the phone (not only close the display).
  5. Start the phone again.
Your PIM data is now back again and it's the property of your phone not of a sync partnership any more.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Google Chrome direct download link

After publishing where to directly download Adobe Reader and Adobe Flash Player, here is a direct download link for Google Chrome:

http://www.google.com/chrome/eula.html?standalone=1

This is helpful when you want to install or update Google Chrome offline, e.g. for use in an intranet environment without having access to the Internet.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Recover lost administrator account on Windows

It's not a nice feeling to forget your administrator account's password. Anyway, it's easy to get back access to your computer! All that you need is physical access to the computer or remote access to the parent partition if you want to recover the account of a virtual machine.

  1. The first thing you have to do is to download this nice and free tool: Offline NT Password & Registry Editor, Bootdisk / CD
  2. Then you need to burn the ISO image to a CD or just mount the image in case of a virtual machine.
  3. Boot from the CD.
  4. Follow the menu (the entries in [brackets] are defaults and can be confirmed using the enter key).

Friday, April 30, 2010

Secure browsing using Remote Desktop Server

In order to secure Internet browsing on corporate desktops you may place a Remote Desktop Server (former Terminal Server) in a separate network connected by a firewall to your corporate network. Allow http connection to the Internet only for this separated network and access from the corporate network to the Remote Desktop Server (open TCP port 3389).

You may use RemoteApp to only see the browser window, without the remote desktop.

A virus outbreak can only affect computers on that separate network but not the workstations and servers on you corporate network.

Use Software Restriction policy to harden the Remote Desktop Server.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Analyze benchmark results of PCMark05 Basic Edition

With the PCMark05 Basic Edition you can measure the performance of you computer for free. If you want to view the benchmark results offline however, you need to do some tricky steps as described below.

Note: The PCMark05 software needn't be installed but you need to install Windows Media Encoder 9 in order to use it. This will allow you to leave a minimal footprint on the target system.

Running the benchmark:

  1. Install Windows Media Encoder 9.
  2. Copy the PCMark05 installation folder to the target computer.
  3. Run PCMark05.exe on the target computer.
  4. After the test finishes save the result.

Analyzing the result:

  1. Open the result file with an unzip utility.
  2. Extract the result.xml file.
  3. Open the result.xml file with Excel and find the benchmark results.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Adobe Flash Player direct download link

Saturday I wrote where to directly download Adobe Reader. Here is a direct download link for Adobe Flash Player.
This is helpful when you want to install or update Adobe Flash Player offline.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Adobe Reader direct download links

When you want to install or update Adobe Reader offline, you need to download the files. This is not an easy task as you don't see the links for downloading the installation files, when you are visiting the Adobe site. Here are the direct download links for Adobe Reader:
See also the Adobe Flash Player direct download links.

“Update All”: Securing your computers with Secunia Personal Software Inspector (PSI).

It's easy to keep your computers operating system up to date: Just activate Auto Update. But how to keep all the other programs updated?

Does this really matter?
Isn't it enough to keep my operating system and browser up to date and from time to time to update some programs? According to a recent study (PDF) 80% of the exploits are done by malicious PDF files. Another 18% are Flash exploits. This shows that the browser isn't any more the main target of the hackers. This means that all the programs must be kept up to date as much as possible.

How can this be done?
Obviously you can't run all the programs regularly to find out if their internal automatic update mechanism shows that there are available updates. You can't browse to the download page of all your programs checking if you have installed the latest version either.
This is where Secunia PSI (Personal Software Inspector) becomes an indispensable companion. This program scans your computer regularly and compares the versions of the installed programs with an up-to-date online database. It also helps you updating programs offering direct links to download the update.
The overview page shows you the score of your computer:

It is a stimulus to update your programs increasing your score. Will you reach 100%? This will be just for a short time. You have to use the program regularly to keep the programs up to date. It is worth while! It is a good feeling to know that your programs are up to date and you have the best possible security.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Sending mail issues because of spam blacklists

Problem
You may observe that your email is frequently marked as spam or even refused by mail servers. The first thing to do is to examine the log file of your mail host. You may see some errors by your smart host like:
Feb 11 2:10 PM mail mail.info postfix/smtp[48923]: 4A87C900BA: to <...>,
relay=smtp.smarthost.fld[123.132.122.133]:25, delay=802, delays=802/0/0.17/0.12,
dns=4.0.0, status=deferred (host smtp.smarthost.fld[123.132.122.133] said: 451 http://www.barracudanetworks.com/

What does this mean?
Well the recipient or your smarthost server refused the email because you are black listed at barracudanetworks.com (actually http://www.barracudacentral.org/reputation).

What to do?
Fist check where your public IP address or domain is black listed. Visit http://www.blacklistalert.com/ and provide your public IP address or domain and click check.
If you are black listed you may have several options:
  • Go to each black list organization and see if there is an option to remove your IP address or domain from the black list. Some black lists, like http://www.uceprotect.net/en don't allow removal at all.
  • Check the reason why you are black listed. It may be that not your IP address is black listed but the whole sub net of your provider. In this case you may consider contacting your ISP for resolving this.
  • You may try to send your email using your internet providers SMTP smarthost.
  • If it is your IP address, that is black listed examine how this could happen. Maybe someone made abuse of your Internet connection for sending spam. This may be done by some virus infected computer. Take measures to resolve this.
  • If you are using a dynamic IP address someone who used this address before may have sent spam or may have an infected computer used to sent spam. Ask your ISP for a fixed static IP address.
Further reading

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Exchange 2003 SP2 kisses Windows 2008 R2 Active Directory

Good news for Exchange 2003 administrators. You're no longer bound to Windows 2003 domain controllers. Recently Microsoft updated their Exchange server support matrix, stating that Exchange 2003 SP2 is compatible with Windows 2008 R2 active directory servers. Although the compatibility already was made public by The Microsoft Exchange Team Blog in November, the official support matrix wasn't updated until recently. This is however crucial. Now you can expect support from Microsoft when using this combination.
Exchange 2003 SP2 even supports Windows Server 2008 R2 Forest Functional Level. Note that it is compatible with a wider range of active directory functional levels than Exchange 2007 SP2.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Transfer a blog to another Google account

The world is in a continuous change. At time you may wish to transfer a blog to another Google account. This is possible. You have to follow these steps:
  1. Create the new Google account you want to use.
  2. Browse to your blog and log in with your old Google account.
  3. Click on the Customize link.
  4. Click on the Settings tab and click on the Permissions link.
  5. In the Blog Authors section click on Add Authors.
  6. Enter the email address of the new Google account and click Invite.
  7. Now sign out your old Google account.
  8. Browse to Gmail and sign in with your new account.
  9. You will find an invitation email from your old account entitled You have been invited to contribute to 's blog.
  10. Open the email and click on the link contained in the email.
  11. Provide the email address and password from your new Google account.
  12. Your new account will be added as a Blog Author.
  13. Sign out from Gmail.
  14. Browse to your blog and sign in with your old account.
  15. Click on the Customize link.
  16. Click on the Settings tab and click on the Permissions link.
  17. Find the new account in the Blog Authors section.
  18. Click on the grant admin privileges link.
  19. On the dialog box confirm by clicking on the GRANT ADMIN PRIVILEGES button.
  20. Sign out with your old Google account.
  21. Browse to your blog and sign in with your new account.
  22. Click on the Customize link.
  23. Click on the Settings tab and click on the Permissions link.
  24. Find the old account in the Blog Authors section.
  25. Click on the remove link.
  26. On the dialog box confirm by clicking on the REMOVE BLOG MEMBER button.
Your blog is now completely transferred to your new Google account. If appropriate you may now delete your old Google account.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Recover a deleted Google account

If you accidentally delete your Google account you can recover it. It's good to have at hand as much information about your deleted account as possible (especially the verification code is useful).

Let's go now:
  1. Browse to http://www.google.com/support/accounts/bin/request.py?ctx=accounts_hc&contact_type=ara.
  2. Specify an email address where the confirmation of the recovery should be sent.
  3. Provide as much information on your account as possible.
  4. Click Submit.
  5. You will receive an email stating something like:
    Thank you for your report.
    The contact address you provided matches the recovery address on the account. We're happy to inform you that you can reset your password by entering your Gmail username at https://www.google.com/accounts/ForgotPasswd and completing the word verification.
  6. Click on the link and provide a new password.
  7. Now your account is recovered.
  8. Try to log in with your new account.

Move the taskbar to the left side on Windows XP

In order to have more space for displaying open tasks in Windows XP, also avoiding grouping of tasks, move the taskbar to the left side of the screen:
  1. Make sure that the taskbar is not locked: Right-click on taskbar and make sure that the Lock the Taskbar option is not checked. If it is checked, uncheck it.
  2. Now drag and drop the taskbar from the current position to the left side of the screen.
There is however a problem with having the taskbar on the left side: at each login the taskbar shrinks until it has the width of an icon. This is due to the language bar. Disable the language bar if it is enabled:
  1. Right-click on language bar and select Close the language bar.
  2. A dialog may appear asking to confirm closing the language bar. Click OK.