Friday, March 31, 2006

Starting/Stopping Windows Services (Part 2)

Sometimes there is a need to start, stop or disable specific Windows services. Although you have to be careful what you stop, some services are dependent on others, so if you stop one you will disable or stop another. Also some services are critical for the system to be able to run properly. Now you have been warned, so consider carefully what you stop.

When managing services on your local computer you may notice that some are started, while others are stopped. You may also notice that some are set to Manual (they have to be manually started), Automatic (they start automatically when the computer boots), and Disabled (they can't be started at all, unless you change their state).

Below are the instructions for managing these services:

  • From the Start menu select All Programs | Administrative Tools, and then select Services.
  • Scroll through the list of services till you find the service you want to stop.
  • Right-click the service you want to manage and select Properties.
  • In the General tab, under the 'Startup Type' dropdown box you can select the service start state (Automatic, Manual, or Disable). You can also start, stop, pause, or resume the service process from this dialog.
  • Press the OK button when done.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Starting/Stopping Windows Services (Part 1)

Did you know that there are applications that are constantly running in the background of your computer whether your logged in or not? These programs are called Windows Services, these programs proform a variety of different tasks, from indexing documents on your computer, to providing network services, and many more.

Below is a List of Windows XP SP2 services that are installed on your computer. Note this list doesn't include 3rd party services, and some services are only available on Windows XP Professional and not Home.
  • Alerter
  • Application Layer Gateway Service
  • Application Management
  • Automatic Updates
  • Background Intelligent Transfer Service
  • Clipbook
  • COM+ Event System
  • COM+ System Application
  • Computer Browser
  • Cryptographic Services
  • DCOM Server Process Launcher
  • DHCP Client
  • Distributed Link Tracking Client
  • Distributed Transaction Coordinator
  • DNS Client
  • Error Reporting Service
  • Event Log
  • Fast User Switching Compatibility
  • Fax
  • Help and Support
  • Human Interface Device Access
  • IMAPI CD-Burning COM Service
  • Indexing Service
  • IPSEC Policy Agent
  • Logical Disk Manager
  • Logical Disk Manager Administrative Service
  • Messenger
  • MS Software Shadow Copy Provider
  • Net Logon
  • NetMeeting Remote Desktop Sharing
  • Network Connections
  • Network DDE
  • Network DDE DSDM
  • Network Location Awareness (NLA)
  • Network Provisioning Service
  • NT LM Security Support Provider
  • Performance Logs and Alerts
  • Plug and Play
  • Portable Media Serial Number Service
  • Print Spooler
  • Protected Storage
  • QoS RSVP
  • Remote Access Auto Connection Manager
  • Remote Access Connection Manager
  • Remote Desktop Help Session Manager
  • Remote Procedure Call (RPC)
  • Remote Procedure Call (RPC) Locator
  • Remote Registry Service
  • Removable Storage
  • Routing and Remote Access
  • Secondary Logon
  • Security Accounts Manager
  • Security Center
  • Server
  • Shell Hardware Detection
  • Smart Card
  • SSDP Discovery Service
  • System Event Notification
  • System Restore Service
  • Task Scheduler
  • TCP/IP NetBIOS Helper
  • Telephony
  • Terminal Services
  • Themes
  • Uninterruptible Power Supply
  • Universal Plug and Play Device Host
  • Volume Shadow Copy
  • WebClient
  • Windows Audio
  • Windows Firewall/Internet Connection Sharing (ICS)
  • Windows Image Acquisition (WIA)
  • Windows Installer
  • Windows Management Instrumentation
  • Windows Time
  • Wireless Zero Configuration
  • WMI Performance Adapter
  • Workstation

Monday, March 27, 2006

Free Online Storage (Streamload)

Do you need a place to store your files online, so you can access them from another location (such as work)? Maybe you want to share large files (such as: personal photos, audio, or video) with your friends or family.

Streamload is offering 25GB of free online storage. If you need more storage, then you can pay for what you want. Then you can securely access the files through your browser.

You can also use a service like this to backup your personal files off your local computer just in case you lose your hard drive or another catastrophe.

Friday, March 24, 2006

The Port Reporter Tool (Advanced)

Note: The log information produced by this tool can be difficult to understand if you don't have a good knowledge of the TCP/IP network protocols and how the Windows OS functions. To see an example of the log files, check out the following page.

Microsoft has released a great tool for monitoring and diagnosing problems with your network communication. The tool is called, the 'Port Reporter tool'. This tool runs as a service on Windows 2000, XP and 2003, and it logs the TCP and UDP port activity on your local computer.

Below is a brief list of some of the information the tool logs:
  • The ports/protocols that are being used
  • Which processes are using specific ports
  • If a specific process is related to a service
  • The user account that the process is running under.
  • The modules (i.e. DLL files) that are being used by the process.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Testing TCP/IP Connectivity (Advanced)

Note: The log information produced by this tool can be difficult to understand if you don't have a good knowledge of the TCP/IP network protocols.

Microsoft has released a program called PORTQRY.EXE, which is a tool designed to check TCP/IP network connectivity and port status (both TCP and UDP) on local or remote computers . If you're any type of system administrator (such as: e-mail, database, web, etc.), then you will need a utility like this in your diagnostic tools arsenal.

This program was originally included as part of the Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Support Tools. Since then Microsoft has released a new version of it (called PORTQRYV2.EXE) that includes new features and functionality not available in the earlier version.

PORTQRYV2.EXE is a command-line utility, so to get the syntax to run it or to see examples of the output go to the following Microsoft Knowledge Base Article (MSKB).

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

LogMeIn Free Remote Access

Do you need access to your home computer while you're on the road or at work. LogMeIn offers a free service for securely accessing your computer from a remote location.

All you have to do is setup an account and install the software on your home computer. Now you can securely access your remote computer from any Internet connected computer.

You can upgrade to the Pro version to transfer, synchronize files remotely and more. See the following page for more information.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Internet Explorer Security Zones

Setting Internet Explorer security settings properly is a tricky process. The default settings keep you pretty safe, but you can always tighten them up to make your computer more secure. The trick is finding the optimal security settings, where web sites still display properly and your computer is still secure.

Internet Explorer uses different security zones to enable or disable different browser functionality and security features to display certain types of web content safely. For example, if you're browsing your company's Intranet, IE will pass your Windows Security credentials. Although, if you're browsing an Internet web site IE will not pass this information.

IE supports four security zones: Internet, Local Intranet, Trusted Sites, and Restricted Sites. Each security zones allows you to set separate security settings and specify which sites fall into which zones. You can set individual permission for each zone by moving a slider up and down, or by setting individual security permissions.

Local Intranet zone: Less restrictive security permissions. Designed to be used for web sites that exist on your companies local Intranet.
Internet zone: The most restrictive security permissions. These settings will apply to most if not all web sites you visit.
Restricted zone: This is a list of sites that you don't trust. Certain potentially insecure web content will be blocked, such as ActiveX controls.
Trusted Sites zone: This is a list of sites that you trust implicitly. Even if certain web content is blocked by the other security zone permissions, web sites listed here will be allowed to display potentially insecure web content.

To access these settings, do the following:
  • While in Internet Explorer, from the Tools menu select 'Internet Options'.
  • Select the Security tab.
  • Make the appropriate changes, then press the OK button when done.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Desktop Earth - Wallpaper Generator

Desktop Earth is a wallpaper generator for Windows. It runs whenever you log into your computer and updates your desktop's background with an image that accurately represents the Earth as it would be seen from space at that precise moment in time.

Images are rendered from high-resolution textures (2560 x 1280) for any size monitor. There is an image for every month to accurately depict snow and foliage changes. The imagery is based on NASA's Blue Marble Next and Earth's City Lights.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Can't see graphics in email after installing SP2

There are new security features that are added into Outlook Express (OE) when you install Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2). By default, SP2 blocks OE's ability to display graphics and other external content in HTML e-mail messages.

This security feature is designed to prevent spammers from using a technology called 'Web Beacons' which lets spammers know that they have a legitimate e-mail address. The way Web Beacons work is when the e-mail client requests an embedded graphic, it has a unique identifier attached to it. The unique identifier tells the spammer which email addresses are legitimate.

To turn off this feature and enable graphics, follow the instructions below
  • From the Start menu | All Programs | Outlook Express.
  • From the Tools menu and select Options...
  • Click the Security tab.
  • Uncheck the 'Block images and other external content in HTML e-mail' checkbox
  • Press the OK button.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

FolderShare for Windows

FolderShare is a free application/service that allows you to share your files from across two or more computers at different locations (such as home and work). The way this service works, it that it setups a private peer-2-peer network between to or more computers, and then synchronizes the files between all the computers in the network.

FolderShare consists of two components, 'My FolderShare' and 'FolderShare Satellite'. My FolderShare allows you to manage the file sharing between the two computers. FolderShare Satellite is the software that you run on your computer that allows you to synchronize and share files.

FolderShare Satellite runs in the background on your computer when you're online. Then as you update your files they will be automatically sync with the other devices.

From here you can download FolderShare for Windows or the Macintosh.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Best Free Games on the Web (Article) has a great article about a 101 free games that you can download and play on your computer. Here is an excerpt from the article: "You don't care how you get your fix. You just want to play a new game right now and you don't want to pay a lot for the privilege. Thank God for the Internet, where everything (and its mom) is available for free. So, taking a break from downloading patches and porn, we set upon a journey to gaming-freebie Mecca."

Friday, March 10, 2006

Google Web Accelerator

The Google Web Accelerator is now available for download again. When this service first debuted late last year they had to take it offline soon after releasing it because of capacity problems (too many people were using it). Well, its now back online.

This service is designed for broadband users, and allows you to use Google's network to download web pages more quickly. For more information on how it work see the following FAQ item.

System Requirements:
  • Operating System: Window 2000 SP3+, or XP
  • Browser: IE 5.5+ or Firefox 1.0+
  • Availability: Users in North America and Europe (during beta testing phase)

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Microsoft New Ultra-Mobile PC

Microsoft is introducing a new portable computer category called the Ultra-Mobile PC (UMPCs). The UMPC is an extremely portable Windows based computer that you can use on the go, or in a meeting. You can check your e-mail, watch video, manage a budget in Excel, play games, and more.

The UMPCs includes a full copy of Windows XP and the ability to touch, write, or type, on the screen. Since it runs a full version of XP, you can run your favorite Windows-based applications on it. To see the UMPCs interface in action, check out the following demo.

Below is the minimum hardware specifications for these devices:
  • Windows XP Tablet PC Edition 2005 OS
  • Approximately 7"” diagonal display (or smaller)
  • Minimum 800 x 480 resolution
  • Approximately 2 pounds
  • Integrated touch panel
  • WiFi- and Bluetooth-enabled

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Free Google Firefox Extensions

Did you know that Google offers free extensions for the Firefox browser that you can download and install? If you don't know what extensions are, they are small applications that can be installed in the browser that adds new functionality.

Below is a list of the extensions that are currently available from Google:

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Hacking your Linksys WRT54GL Wireless Router (Article)

ExtremeTech has a great article on hacking your Linksys WRT54GL wireless router. If you own one of these devices, then this article is worth checking out. By making an upgrade to the router's firmware, you can add some amazing new features, such as:
  • Traffic shaping (a way of optimizing network performance).
  • Boasting your router's power output (increases the router range).
  • Bridging multiple routers together (increases the router range).

Monday, March 06, 2006

Internet Explorer 7.0 Beta 2

Microsoft is making available for download, the Internet Explorer 7 Beta 2 Preview. This is the latest version of I.E. 7, and its for Windows XP SP2 only. If you're running an earlier version of the OS, you're out of luck.

Before you download this software, realize its Beta which means that its not the released version. This means use it at your own risk, Microsoft makes no guaranteess, that you will not have compatibility problems.

This Beta is primarily meant for I.T. professionals and web developers to test their web site and applications against the new browser. Although, if you want to check it out for yourself I don't believe there are any restrictions against it.

Some of the new improvements in the browser include: security protection, redesigned user interface, and development platform. Below is a high level list of some of the major new features:
  • Phishing Filter (reports if a web site is not who it really is)
  • RSS Reader (allows you to read RSS feeds in the browser)
  • Tabbed browsing (open multiple web pages in a single window)
  • Toolbar search box (quickly search from the toolbar)
  • Advanced printing (optimized web page printing)
  • Security Status Bar (displays different colors in the status bar to notify you how safe the web site might be)
  • Privacy Cleaner (quickly deletes your browser cache, cookies, and other data that might contain personal information)
  • And much more...
For a quick tour of IE7, check out the following demo.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Hard Drive Diagnostics with HD Tune

HD Tune helps you monitor your hard drive's performance and health (such as errors and heat). This program uses SMART (Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology) to check the status of your hard drive. It can also scan the surface of your hard drive for errors.

System Requirements:
  • Windows 2000, XP (all versions), 2003 Server (requires administrator access).
  • 10MB of free disk space
  • SCSI, SATA or IDE hard disk.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Windows Defender

Microsoft recently released a new version of its free anti-spyware program called Windows Defender (Beta 2). This program was originally release last year under a different name (Windows Anti-Spyware).

The program features real-time monitoring that can help protect your computer from many different types of threats caused by spyware. It also features a new streamlined interface.

For more information:

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Windows OneCare Live

Microsoft recently released a new security subscription service called 'Windows OneCare Live'. This new security service is currently in its beta testing phase.

Some of the new features of the service are: an improved software firewall, anti-virus, data backup and cleanup tools for your computer.

Microsoft also announced the pricing of the new service will be: $49.95 per year to protect three PCs. Currently now while its in beta, its free to try until April 30th.