Monday, September 8, 2008

MDaemon - Enterprise Class Email Server Free Version

Any one who knows me, knows I have fought the pressure to put in Microsoft Exchange at our company for years. I have been a user of ALT-N's Mdaemon product now for years. Currently we are using their 9.x version. I have always been extremely happy with MDaemon for the following reasons:

1. I think it delivers Enterprise level email server services at an excellent price
2. It has very good security with SPAM/Antivirus/Bayesing/White and Black Lists, etc.
3. LDAP support if desired
4. IMAP/POP/SMTP
5. Web Access for users
6. IM secure for users
7. Multiple Domain Support
8. Gateway support
9. Mailing Lists, Alias, Forwards, etc.
10.Excellent Upgrade process AND ... it runs great in a Virtual Server

Those are just a few of the reasons I like it. Some are part of the Pro Version, so check it out.

But now ALT-N is giving a 5 user version at no cost! Now that is cool, giving that for years I paid for their 5 user version to run my own email server at home! So, I say this is a great move on their part. See below, from an email sent to me to upgrade to their version 10:

[7138] INTRODUCING MDAEMON FREE *

"MDaemon FREE" is a limited but totally free version of MDaemon. It is
intended to provide basic mail server capability for up to 5 users. For
more information on MDaemon FREE visit: http://www.altn.com/MDaemon-Free/

The installer will offer an option to install MDaemon FREE or you can
convert an existing installation or trial version to MDaemon FREE by using
this registration key: IDJDFYC-YQDSBOL-HTXANTQ

Now this is cool!

Delco

Friday, May 30, 2008

Windows XP Service Pack 3
(could the flaws in Windows XP SP3 be a push to Vista?
Not since Windows NT Service pack 2 do I remember so many problems with a Service Pack from Microsoft. So the question is: Are these intentional, or just another failure of quality control on the part of Microsoft? I got to admit, that I have become pretty complacent with Microsoft's Service Packs. They have been pretty reliable since the Service Pack 2 that was released for Windows NT 4. That was a pretty bad one, and they had to quickly release service pack 3 to fix all the problems. Now I think it would be a stretch to say that the Borg (MS) would intentionally break the XP machines to try to push people to Vista which I think is the biggest blob since Windows ME. I had Vista on my work PC because I have to try to stay ahead of the curve, but at home I was no way going to go away from XP. I mean when I go home I sure don't want the problems Vista could produce and was waiting with great anxiousness for another service pack for XP which would allow me to stretch the use of XP farther into the future. By doing this I would ride out the Vista Blast and see if Microsoft would come up with something better. So when problems started arising with XP SP3 I thought, "how convenient?" I got to say that I applied SP3 to my home PC, my laptop, and another 2 computers at work and did not see some of the more horrendous problems experienced by others, but after learning that it could produce problems across a very dissimilar install base in our company, I told my assistant not to approve it in the Windows Update Server. I also put the Vista Service Pack 1 on my work computer, and that seem to have helped a bit, especially on performance, so, with a better Vista because of SP 1 and a worse XP because SP 3, the conspiracy theorist in me starts wondering - nah, I am just imagining things! Delco

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Windows XP Service Pack 3 Breaks stuff - this helps fix them

Service Pack 3: Every Issue I can find a fix for!

(Thanks to Kalen Arndt http://www.adminjr.com )

1.Remote Desktop 6.1 (MSTSC.exe):
The following parameters have changed: "/console"
Effected Users: Administrators, Terminal Users.
The RDP client can no longer connect to a remote terminal with "hostname
/console"
If you are having problems connecting then replace the /console switch with
/admin

2.Dragging and Dropping (Network source to your computer):
Effected Users: All
The original network dragging and dropping is disabled due to a security
measure to re-enable the function Start Control Panel Internet Options Security (Select the zone) Custom Level Drag and drop or copy and paste files and "File Download” under "downloads"

3.USB 2.0 ( Problems transferring to a USB device)
Originally Microsoft had created a fix for this
http://support.microsoft.com/kb/908673 This was made for SP2 and when you
upgrade to SP3 it deletes the .reg key
Please check the key in the registry:
Start Run Regedit HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE SYSTEM CurrentControlSet
Services USB EnSoftRetry
If the registry key entry is not present then create a DWORD value as the
same (EnSoftRetry) and set it to 1.

4."Stop 0x0000007E" on HP AMD based Computers
The stop error is generated due to the fact that HP shipped their machines
out with the wrong image on the AMD systems.
To fix the error:
Restart your computer in Safe Mode (F8 on boot)
Start Run Regedit HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE SYSTEM ControlSet001
Services Intelppm
Click on the Start Entry and then click Modify.
In the Value Data box, type 4 then click ok
Restart your computer

5.Windows Update (Failing After Install)
"Found SP3 available on Windows Update site, I downloaded and installed it.
However after the install my machine would not install any further updates
from Windows Update. It would download them but fail on the install"
The solution goes like this:
Start Run C:\Windows\System32
Find "Wups2.dll" (I swear it's in there)
Right click the file and click "Open With" and then "Choose Program" Then
navigate to C:\Windows\System32\Regsvr32
After you have registered that DLL then everything will work just as it
should.

6.Get your Address Bar back!
Microsoft released a statement "We had to remove the address bar
functionality due to legal restrictions. The release notes carry this as a
known issue"
I found a blogger by the name of Ryan T Adams who had a helpful Article on
how to get it back!
Simply download the file from http://blog.ryantadams.com/2008/05/08/restore-the-address-bar-in-windows-xp-sp3/
then look for: xp_sp3_address_bar.zip
Extract the files directly to your desktop
Restart and boot into safe mode
Double click InstallAddressBar.bat
When done hit any key and the batch will reboot the computer.
(Thanks Ryan @ RyanTadams.com)

)

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Frankenstein Lives!
(Another technical PC / Computer article)
The PC / Computer Open Air Tech Bench

If you take PCs apart over and over just to test things, you will probably appreciate this. I saw it on one of the most popular techie sites, and bought two: One for my regular job and one for my home workbench. I couldn't wait to put it to the test. I took me about 45 minutes to put the tech-bench together; but in reality it should of taken me no more than a half hour because I was scanning pictures on my other computer at the same time. It took me another 20 minutes to tear down an old machine and put the parts in the tech-bench to see how it would work. It works great. Now all I have to do is test the parts, before I throw it in my computers, or build PCs before I even have the case! There is also a bigger one for the extended ATX this is for standard ATX. One problem is if you have BTX - it does not fit well in this one, but we are trying to rig it so it does. The micro should work.

Yeah I know, you can do this without the tech-bench, and I have done it, and seen other techs do it: put all the parts on a table on some anti-static material; but this is a bit more stable and safer. You can also keep it as just a stand alone PC for testing different parts. Anyway, I like it.


Right Side

Angle view


The front is actually what would be the back of a PC. The white plastic bar serves as the stabilizer for the Add on Cards.



Back view



It comes with the power, reset, and hard drive lights jumper switches.


Delco



Saturday, May 3, 2008

Connect to the internet with authority part 3 (read part1, read part2 )

In this part we are going to do a little trouble shooting. Before that lets go over some details. First look at the diagram below. Get a picture of what is actually happening when you are connected to the Internet. This is a typical home or hot spot setup:
The "You" section means you connecting to the internet. You could be using a direct-to-wire router, or wireless router. You could also be using a modem, or a CELL air card. The Internet Provider is your ISP, he is feeding the configuration down to you directly or to your router, which in turn might feed it to your PC. In the case of a modem or Cell card, you get the configuration directly. The "The rest of the world" is the Internet and all the places you want to get to, including possibly, your office at another location.

Also, I want to recap and explain in a bit more detail what the settings and configuration are and mean: The IP address. This is the address of each computer or node that connects to the Internet. Usually is is in the form of xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx. Each X representing a number. For example, you might have an address of 192.168.1.35 assigned to your Laptop, while that cool web site you regularly visit might be 65.33.33.1. Not to go into too much detail, but I must mention that the 192.168.x.x addresses, those that start with the 192.168 are what are called "private" addresses. That means that you will only see that range of numbers in networks sitting behind the routers and firewalls that you have at home or at work or at a hot spot. You might also see a format that starts like this 10.x.x.x. the 10. is also private. The other one we touched on before, is the loop back 127.0.0.1, but everything else are public addresses.

The Mask. The mask is in the same format, but will be like this 255.255.255.0, or 255.255.0.0 or some other variation. The key to knowing it is a mask, is that you will have at least the first three numbers of 255.x.x.x. The mask determines the network you are on. Each node is part of a sub-net. When you surf the Internet, you are not actually on the Internet, but the Internet is on the other side of your router. The router knows based on your mask whether it needs to send your transmission to the Internet, or if you are just connecting to something inside your sub-net, like your wife's laptop, or a printer, etc.

The Gateway. The Gateway usually is the port on the router that is inside your sub-net. Every router will have at least two ports. One for your sub-net (LAN) and one for the Internet (WAN). The Gateway is your ramp unto the Internet.

The DNS. The DNS (Domain Name Server) is a piece of software, like a database that links an IP address to a name. One word here: There are a lot of DNS servers. Every ISP is required to have at least two, a main one and a backup. They on the other hand connect to other DNS servers. It is like a big upside down tree. They communicate which each other so when you type in www.yahoo.com, they will get the actual IP address for you and then you can get there. The IP to name is much like a phone directory. If the phone directory just had the phone numbers, you could call the numbers and they would work, but you would not know who you are calling. You would have a hard time getting to the person you wanted unless that person told you his number or you would just start dialing until you hit the right number. Pretty impossible. DNS is the phone directory of the internet.

802.11b, and 802.11g. These are the Wireless (Wifi) network protocols. Older routers operated at the 802.11b, slower, but new ones operate at the 802.11g or at both speeds.

WEP/WPA. These are two of the methods of securing a wireless router. WEP uses either 64 bit or 128 bit encryption. WPA uses 256 bit encryption. Open. On the other end, Open means that there is no security set on the router. Most "Open Hot Spots" have no encryption set, so it is easy to hop on those wireless networks. STOP: One word here. I am not covering setting up the router here, just dealing with problems connecting to the Internet using a Wireless connection. Please be aware that any mis-configuration of routers whether wireless or not will cause all kinds of problems. Also your Cable or DSL provider can be having issues that are beyond us trying to fix. So although troubleshooting includes setting up the router correctly, I am assuming that it is, or that it should be.

Basically we are just trying to figure out what is not working so we don't pull all our hair out. Sometimes is a simple fix, other times it is not. Lets start with the obvious, or maybe sometimes not so obvious. Believe me all this has happened to me at one time or another.
  1. Is the radio on? Some laptops have a switch in addition to being able to turn it on and off with the Fn and another key, like the F5 (Thinkpads). Others have software that allows you to turn it on and off or all three. Make sure you know how to turn yours on and off.
  2. On a Wireless Access Point or Wireless Router
    • Is it an open wireless? You have to connect to it, and you will usually have the option to save it as a "preferred" connection. This means if you go back, your computer will have it saved and automatically connect to it.
    • If it is not an open wireless point, do you have the WEP or WPA keys set that are appropriate? This is a killer if you don't have it, you will not be able to connect.
    • Some Networks, maybe yours, use what is called MAC filtering instead of, or in conjunction with the Security Keys. If this is the case, you or whoever is in charge will have to enter that MAC address into the filter of the Access Point or Router. You can get your MAC address by:
The easiest way to do this if the Wireless icon is visible in the System tray, is to right click on it, and select "Status". There are two tabs, on is the General tab where you can actually see the status. Signal strength, the name of the Wireless network you are connected to, and in/out traffic.
This is what the General tab looks like:
    • Select the second tab, the Support tab. Click on the button called "details". On the "Details", the top setting that says "Physical Address", this is the MAC address.
      This is what the Support tab looks like:
      This is what the Details Look like:
      3. Once You are connected to the Wireless Access Point or Router, you will receive your IP address, the Mask, the Gateway, and the DNS configuration.
Wireless on your Computer or Laptop is just not working right What to check:
  1. If you move from place to place, or you often put your machine in standby or Hibernate, try running the "Repair" This attempts to reset your connection to the nearest wireless router that you were connected to, or if not connected to that one, it tries to find a new one.
  2. Turn your Wireless radio off and on. Sometimes I have had to do that despite having everything OK.
  3. Again, if you are connecting to a new network make sure you know if you need a Security key
  4. Also do you see the SSID for the wireless network you are trying to connect to. Some Wireless Routers/Access Points hide their SSID in an effort to enhance security (But it stands to reason, that if you are trying to connect to something you do not see, you already know about it some how).
  5. Check the signal. Sometimes you are connected, but the signal is so weak that you really can't do anything. In that case you are either going to have to move closer, or move the equipment closer to you, or change the angle of the antenna.
You could be connected and still not be able to surf. What to do? Remember the second article. You should know now what it should look like when it is working, so just run through all the steps:
  1. Ping the loop back
  2. Ping the Gateway
  3. Ping DNS
  4. Ping a web site you know the IP address of with the ping -a option, and see if you get the name back.
Sometimes DNS servers flake out, and although you have all the configuration correct, you are still not going to be able to surf. If you can ping an IP address, but the -a switch does not return a name, you can cement the deal of knowing it is a DNS problem by taking that IP address of the Web site you know, and instead of putting that friendly name in your browsers address bar, use the IP address instead. Like this:
  • Instead of http://www.websitename.com
  • Use this: http://111.111.111.111
  • Of course use real ones. Those are just for example. If you come up on the web site, you know it is a DNS problem.
Also, if things are some what quirky, for example: You can get on the Internet but things just freeze, then if it is not a signal strength problem, use the tracert utility. We talked about this in the second article. See if things just seem to drop off some where in the path. This indicates a router problem some where down the line. It might be your ISP or even beyond them. Not much you can do about that. You could call and complain, or go play with the kids or something. VPN I thought I would touch on this again for anyone who has to use it to get to the Work Network. What can you test if you cannot get on? Remember this kind be quite frustrating because you could be on the Internet and everything be going well, but VPN can still fail.
  1. Do you have the right address?
  2. Can you ping that address?
  3. Also, open a DOS or Command Window, and use the following command:
Telnet AddressOfVpn 25 Hit Enter If you get back a black window with the cursor just blinking at the top left, your VPN is working and you should be able to use it. Maybe you are locked out, or something else back at the office is not configured right, or you forgot your user name and password. If you get .... "Could not open connection to the host, on port 25: Connect Failed", then something is keeping you from even getting to it. Remember, the right door must be open. Look back at Part1 of these articles for the Ports for different applications. I hope this has helped. Leave comment, question, suggestion, corrections, additions or whatever. It is all appreciated. Delco

Friday, April 25, 2008

Connect to the authority with authority part 2 (read part 1)
Wireless In the previous article I described the different parts that need to be working so you can connect to the Internet. But it would be helpful to see what it looks like when it is working. Let's start with the actual visuals, and also with wireless. In windows XP when you are connected to a wireless network, you should have a small icon in your System Tray (the System Tray is the area next to the "clock" on the bottom right of the screen) showing that you are connected. It is not necessarily visible by default, you need to tell Windows to show it to you when connected.
This is what it looks like:
If you don't see it, please turn the "show me when connected" option on by:
  1. Click on Start
  2. Click on Control Panel
  3. In Control Panel, "double click" the "Network Connections" icon
  4. Find the Icon called "Wireless Network Connection"
  5. Right click on it, and select "Properties"
  6. There are two check boxes at the bottom:
    • "Show icon in notification area when connected"
    • "Notify me when this connection has limited or no connectivity"
  7. Put a check mark in each of the boxes
  8. You can select OK.
This is what is should look like before you click OK:
You should now see the icon in the System Tray, and if you are connected to a Wireless Network you should be able to see it plainly. So that is visible evidence that you have a "connection". Lets look at three settings:
  1. An IP address for your Wireless connection, along with the "mask".
  2. The Gateway address
  3. A DNS server address
The easiest way to do this if the Wireless icon is visible, is to right click on it, and select "Status". There are two tabs, on is the General tab where you can actually see the status. Signal strength, the name of the Wireless network you are connected to, and in/out traffic.
This is what the General tab looks like:
Select the second tab, the Support tab. There you will see your IP address, the Mask and the Gateway addresses. But to see the DNS, you have to go one more step and click on the button called "details". Now you will see even more information, including towards the bottom of the list a "DNS" server address.
This is what the Support tab looks like:
This is what the Details Look like:
Write down the numbers for the IP address, the Gateway, it well help you with the next exercise. OK, so far you have seen all the things that should be there. Let's go step farther by seeing how the connection is working. Start a command window. You can do this by clicking on "Start", select "Run", and in the box that appears type "cmd" and then click on "OK". We are going to use two commands "Ping" and "Tracert". Ping is like a sonar, and Tracert is a trace of a route from point A to point B. Ping We are going to ping:
  1. Your own machine
  2. Your gateway
  3. Your DNS server
  4. An Internet address
First Ping your own machine by pinging 127.0.0.1 (loop back) - now this not your assigned address, but it is a good way to tell that the IP protocol is properly working on your machine.
This is what it looks like:
Next Ping the IP address of the Gateway. This tells you that you at least can get to the door that leads to the Internet.
This is what it looks like:
Next Ping the IP address of the DNS server. This tells you that the DNS is reachable.
This is what it looks like:
Next Ping a web site. One that I often use is www.yahoo.com.
This is what it looks like:
Next use a special Ping command. Use it this way. Instead of Pinging the web site name, ping the actual address with the -a option. This should return the "name" of the address. This tells you the DNS is working because you could have every address correct, but if DNS can't give you back a name of the web site, you will not be able to surf. In that case the DNS is having problems. In my example I actually used the DNS address itself. You can actually use the same number because it is "a free DNS" server on the Internet. Or you can do an IP address that you know belongs to a real Web Address. The point is, that you should see the name on the first line. Like below: "Pinging resolver1.opendns.com ..... That first part is the name being returned to the IP address being pinged.
This is what it looks like:
Tracert A good thing to also do is to use Tracert to follow the path to a Web Destination. This shows you the path from point A to point B. I used Yahoo again. Notice that it went through each "hop" OK until it got to its destination, and it says "Trace Complete". Each number is a "hop" through a router interface.
This is what it looks like:
One more thing to look at while things are working:
  1. Double click the wireless icon in your system tray.
  2. Click on the "View Wireless Networks"
This is what you should see:
The main thing to notice is that where is says "connected" and the signal strength. Also the "name" of the network you are connected to. The name is referred to as an SSID. Your connection should look similar to the screen shot above.
I concentrated in this article on the "Wireless" connection and what things looks like when everything is working. In the next article we will look at when it is not working. If you connect with a "Wired" connection or a "Modem" you can still use most of the same commands above to see how things are suppose to look like. Delco

Monday, April 21, 2008

Connect to the Internet with authority!
Recently at my place of employment we have been handing out more laptops with built in wireless capabilities to more and more field people. These workers have traditionally not had computers of any kind. They basically operated using Nextel phones. My mother who is in her 70s started using a laptop a couple of years ago. My wife, who by her own admission has zero ability to configure or use computers now has to use a laptop since she went back to school. Connecting Computers, and especially Laptops to the Internet sometimes can be a challenge. What are all the methods? Before you use a method to connect, you need a service that allows you access. This is usually your cable or phone company, or a "place" that you can go to that gives you access like a coffee shop or the library, etc.

Methods
Wired
You usually plug a cable with a jack that looks slighter bigger than a phone jack. This is usually the fastest and most reliable way to connect to the Internet.

Modem

This is the old and slow way to connect to the Internet. Now I say old because of the advent of broadband or fast Internet. There are still a number of people using a modem. When using a modem you need a phone number to call, and usually when you are connected to the Internet your phone is not usable unless your modem and the software allows you to "Pause" while you receive a call.

Wireless (Wifi)
Usually when you hear the term wireless, it is referring to Wireless Access to the Internet through Radio transmission. This type of access is now built into almost every laptop along with the Ethernet and Modem jacks. This is also the type of access you see at Internet Cafes and other "Hot Spots" as they are called. You can also set up your own wireless access at home. All you need is to have the Internet already set up at home using the above mentioned Broadband. One word of caution here. When people start using wireless they might be surprised that when they get home turn on their laptop they are all of a sudden on the Internet. This is even though they do not have any Internet access at home. I have seen this happen and some just think that it is normal because after all the laptop has "wireless". What they don't realise is that they are actually on their neighbor's wireless. So in a sense they are on someone else's Internet. While this may seem to be cool, I do not recommend it. Because some don't understand this, when they take the laptop somewhere else, and it does not work, they think something is wrong.

Wireless Air Cards
(Broadband via Cell Network)
This kind of connection is the "one true" mobile wireless. This type of connection can be provided either as another built in capability with the laptop, or via a "card" or "USB" plug-in device. What you need for this, is to pay for the service from your cell service provider like Verizon or Sprint for example. If you live in an area where you cannot get any sort of "high speed" Internet access and are relegated to using only a modem, you might be able to get faster access with this type. You need to test it, but I have found that frequently that those who cannot get cable or DSL, have had good luck with this. It is not guaranteed, but this type of connection is continually expanding. It is my belief that this is the future for Mobile Wireless Networking.

VPN
(Virtual Private Network)
This is the thorniest of the hurdles for some people to get over. Now, unless you have need for this you might not know what this is. In our situation at work, we need to connect to our network when we are far away from it. A VPN is like running a cable from our office to where ever you are not matter how far away; but we do it through the Internet - i.e., it is created virtually. Therefore the name "Virtual Private Network". We do this by creating a tunnel through the Internet. For this to work there there is a need for special equipment back at the office. On your laptop you need to be on the Internet. You then create the connection using the Network Connection Wizard. This is can be done on any modern computer. Windows provides it as part of the system. Some VPN equipment also come with their own special VPN software that you install on your laptop. The biggest problem with VPNs, is that there are numerous reasons it might not work. It hard to tell why. I can tell you with a great degree of certainty that if you are in a hotel and you are on the Internet OK, but cannot get your VPN to work, or it only works once in a while, it is that the Hotel's access is not configured for it; or it only allows one connection out at a time. This is very frustrating.

All the pieces need to fit
A puzzle with a missing piece, is not going to work. When using the Internet, and it is not working-what is actually not working sometimes is hard to define. It could be that "email" is not working or the "VPN" is not working. You might really not even be able to make a connections at all. Above I made a mentioned of why a VPN connection might not work in a hotel. This might happen in any place: maybe you are at a customer's site, or a vendors, or whatever. All the pieces you need to work on the Internet. Let's count them:
  1. There has to be some kind of access provider.
  2. You need one of the "methods" listed above: Wired (Ethernet cable), Modem (dial up), Wireless (Wifi), or Wireless Card via Cell provider
  3. After that you need an address, usually called an "IP" address (usually provided via the network access by provider or/and a router)
  4. Along with that address you need a "Gateway" - this is the "first on ramp" to the Internet.
  5. Once you have that, there are "ports". Think of ports as doors, or different openings. While you have the Internet, and your gateway, there are different doors that you go through based on what or where you want to go. For example the Web uses port 80. This door is usually not visible to you because the "Browsers" know the door so you don't have to type it in. If you did have to type it in, it would look something like this: http://www.microsoft.com:80 - Notice the :80 at the end. That is the door. Because every application has a "port", if this port is closed, you might be able to get on the Internet, but for example you might not be able to get on a VPN because that "port" might be closed. Quite frustrating if not known (or if known and still it does not work).
  6. Let's look at some common Ports (doors). Notice that you use probably use some of these services but maybe were not aware that you were using these ports. I highlighted the more popular ones:
  • Port Service
    20,21 FTP (File transfer)
    22 SSH (Remote login secure)
    25 SMTP (Internet mail)
    53 DNS (Host naming)
    80 HTTP (Web)
    88 Kerberos (computer authentication protocol)
    110 POP3 (Client access)
    119 NNTP (Usenet newsgroups)
    123 NTP (Network time)
    137-139 NetBIOS (DOS/Windows naming)
    143 IMAP (Client access)
    161,162 SNMP (Network management)
    163,164 CMIP (Network management)
    443 HTTPS (Web secure)
    514 Syslog (Event logging)
    563 NNTPS (Usenet newsgroups secure)
    993/tcp IMAP4 over SSL, Internet Message Access Protocol
    995/tcp POP3 over SSL, Post Office Protocol
    989,990 FTPS (File transfer secure)
    1723 Virtual private network (V
So as you can see, there are a quite a few parts to make it all work. There are also some other things to be aware on your laptop. Make sure that whatever method being used, that you know the visible indications of the connection status. Most laptops will have light or some kind of LED display showing that the Radio is on for Wifi. If you are using a Ethernet Cable look for one green light (link or connection) and an amber light (for actual activity). If you are using a modem you can't miss the sounds. If you do not hear the sound, it might you turned the sound off on your computer. Although annoying, I always liked to have it on because the sounds were a tell tale sign of positive or negative connection. If you are using an Air Card from a cell provider, they will provide software that will tell you whether you are connected or not. Also your Computer/laptop can be configured to show you the connections status of any method so you can see if it is connected or not. To understand why something is not connecting I it is better to understand how it looks like when it is working. With that knowledge, it will be much easier to understand when something fails to connect. In a following article I will show what it looks like when it is working. Then when it is not. In that way we will be able to troubleshoot Internet connections better. Delco (read part2)

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Adding an add on Network Interface Card helps with file transfer problems

Quick note: The problems I have had with Vista not transferring large files, either randomly or partially then crapping out, or just failing with the error: "The Network Location is no longer available" ... went away when I stopped using the internal Intel Card and added an Intel PCIE x1 card.

Delco

Monday, January 21, 2008

Secure Your Web Surfing And Online Access

Why I like Firefox for safer web surfing
There are always discussions of which browser is the best, and if there is which one? Well, I am not going to say one is better than the other, rather I am gong to say why I personally choose one over the other.

I personally like Firefox. I like Firefox because it is the most secured browser. Secured not just because Firefox is immune to hacks, whacks and other malware; but it is more secure because of various reasons. One that is often quoted is that "it is more secure than IE because IE is more prevalent." Well maybe so. But I think it is also more secure because it is so customizable. You also have a plethora of plugins and it is not closed to one company making the decisions of what gets developed for it like Microsoft does with IE.

The bulk of the evidence that I see in reading numerous articles on Web Browsers leaves me with not other conclusion. I do believe that the version 7 of IE though is more secure than any of its predecessors, nevertheless, you cannot customize, or un-customize IE like you can Firefox.

Using Free Proxies
If you are a bit paranoid, and if you surf the Internet you should be, you can help your self by surfing anonymously. This does not require one browser over the other. You can simply use a free proxy - there is a good list at AtomIntersoft ; but those can also be a bit dangerous if you do not know who is running them. I looked for the ones that were being run by Universities, but I really don't know for sure of course who is running them. I think it is safe as long as you don't ever give out any information - your - mileage may vary.

Another option is to use an anonymous surfing site like Anonymouse or Proxify . Sites that let you traverse the Internet without disclosing your location. They both have a free versions although, if you pay a nominal fee, you get faster service, and that is a caveat, all proxies do slow you down a bit.

The TOR network
After poking around a bit more I decided to use the Tor Network. I believe that TOR stands for "The Onion Router". Onion because of the "layers". To learn more about the Tor Network please visit their site. In a sense you travel the Internet by first hoping on their network which bounces you all over the world proxi to proxi until you arrive at your destination.

Before you do so, please read their documentation. It has very good advice. It tells you that even using Tor you are not totally immune from being tracked or spied upon; but that you must follow other advice. Four of which I follow now as much as possible even when not using Tor:

1. Use Firefox
2. Un-install all plugins (at least all suspect, and keep only the bear minimum)
3. Do install four plugins: FlashBlock, No Script, Cookie Culler, and Quick Java (all of these block active content but still allow you to control when you want to allow).

In addition if you are using Firefox, it is also easy to install one more plugin Torbutton which allows you to turn on and off Tor on the fly.

If you follow the instructions on their web site you will end up with Tor, Vidalia, and Privoxy installed. Tor is for the actual surfing. Vidalia is the Gui to configure it, and Privoxy is like a local proxy. I also figured out how to have IE use the Tor network.

I am not going to explain all the details of how, because it is well explained on their site. There is one thing that still is an issue: When surfing on Tor things do slow down. Tor is there because of volunteers. It is free, so consider pitching in. Also some sites, even Google thought I was a hacker not because I am, but because Tor actually worked! That is Google could not figure out who I was or where I was coming from so they freaked! See they are watching us. Sometimes you come out of Europe or some other place.

They are watching us. So surf stealthfully as much as possible.

Delco

Delaying Vista Activation for a Year

In the January 2008 Edition of Maximum PC, page 45 there is a cool hack: How to delay the Vista Activation for at least a year - This is right out of the magazine:

To reset the timer to 30 day, open a command window in Administrative mode (At the start typ cmd, then press Ctrl-Shift-Enter) - then type slmgr -rearm. This starts the 30-day countdown again. It does this no matter how much time is left on the original countdown. You can do this 3 times for a total of 120 days. Then it will not work anymore.

But, I guess you can give yourself another 240 days by running regedit, go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\MICROSOFT\WindowsNT\SL. Then it the right pane, right click SkipRearm and click MODIFY. Change the 0 to a 1.

Now the magazine says that Microsoft might fix or change this through an update, so know that, and you know the rules about modifying the registry - do it at your own risk ... blah, blah, blah.

Delco