Thursday, May 26, 2011

Software: Remote Potato (Free Access to Your Media Over the Internet)

Remote Potato is a free program that runs on a Windows computer (supports: XP, Vista and Windows 7) that gives you access to your media (e.g. music, pictures, video, etc.) over the Internet.  The program also has remote support for Windows Media Center.

All you need for remote access of your content is an Internet connection and a web browser.  There is even a mobile application for viewing your content with the iPhone.

(Check out the following web site for more information)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Understanding the Facebook “Find out who views your profile” scam

OpenDNS Blog reports: "Every few weeks there’s a new scam that makes the rounds on Facebook. This week it’s the “Find out who visits your profile,” scam, which we’ve all seen before. The reason it piques my interest this time is the sheer volume of people falling victim. That coupled with the fact that the victims include some of my more tech-savvy Facebook friends made me want to understand better what exactly the virus is trying to do and how we can all protect ourselves.

The virus works first by gaining access to your Facebook account. Unlike other methods for hacking, which involve somehow accessing your login credentials, this scam needs only for you to click a link posted on your wall or someone else’s wall. To entice you into clicking, the scam offers something lots of people would love to know, but Facebook doesn’t allow: a list of people who’ve viewed your profile. You might receive an e-mail notification that tells you a friend has posted a link on your wall with this context:"

(Read the rest of the article)

Monday, May 23, 2011

Software: Handbrake (Free Video Transcoder)

HandBrake is an open-source, multi-platform (e.g. MacOS X, Linux and Windows), video transcoder.  If you never heard of a transcoder, it converts digital media from one format (such as .VOB, .TS and M2TS files) into another format (MPEG-4, H.264, MP3, Vorbis, and mroe)

  • For more information on the program, check out its web site.
  • For more information on the video formats this program supports, check out this Wikipedia article.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Windows 7: Delete Recent Items from the Jump Lists

People are worried about privacy these days, and sometimes features that are designed for convenience store too much information about us.  If you want to get rid of the recent items displayed in the taskbar jump lists, follow the instructions below:
  • Right-click the Start button.
  • Select Properties.
  • Click the Start Menu tab.
  • Uncheck the item "Store and display recently opened items in the Start Menu and the taskbar".
  • Press the Apply button.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Microsoft Security Tools

Microsoft has created a page where they post all their security tools, both free and commercial.  The age and usefulness of some of these tools will vary depending on your environment (e.g. a home vs. an enterprise network). Although, what I really find handy about this page is that all the tools are grouped together in one place.

Below is a brief list of some of the tools that are available for download:
  • Microsoft Security Assessment Tool (MSAT): Helps assess weaknesses in an organization’s IT security environment.
  • Microsoft Security Compliance Manager: Provides security configuration recommendations from Microsoft.
  • Microsoft Baseline Security Analyzer (MBSA): Scans on your network for missing security updates and common security mis-configurations.
  • File Checksum Integrity Verifier: A command-line tool that computes MD5 or SHA-1 cryptographic hash values for files.  This is useful for validating a file's integrity.
  • PortQry: This command-line utility helps troubleshoot TCP/IP connectivity issues in Windows.
Check out the site to see all the tools.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Web Site: Building a museum of museums on the web

Imagine being able to see artwork in the greatest museums around the world without leaving your chair. Driven by his passion for art, Amit Sood tells the story of how he developed Art Project to let people do just that.


Microsoft Safety Scanner (Free)

Sometimes you need a second opinion when it comes to the subject of malware (e.g.: virus, worms, spyware, etc.). Although, first and foremost you should be running a real-time malware scanner with up-to-date signatures to protect your home or small business computers.

On those occasions where you think something maybe wrong, then you should use an alternate tool to make sure that your current tools are not missing something.  Check out Microsoft's new Safety Scanner it's a free downloadable security tool that provides on-demand scanning and helps with the removal of malware. It also works with your existing anti-malware software.
Note: The Microsoft Safety Scanner expires 10 days after being downloaded. To scan your system with the latest anti-malware definitions, all you need to do is re-download and run the Safety Scanner again.
The Safety Scanner is not a meant as replacement for using an real-time anti-malware software program that provides ongoing protection. For free real-time malware protection download Microsoft Security Essentials.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Windows 7: The Power of FSUTIL Command

FSUTIL is a powerful command-line utility that can provide very technical information about your computer's drives, or if utilized incorrectly can cause damage to the file system.
Note: To use this utility, it requires administrative permission on the local system.
Below are a few examples of different operations that the command can perform.

Queries volume information
E.g.: fsutil fsinfo volumeinfo c:

Queries NTFS specific volume information
E.g.: fsutil fsinfo ntfsinfo c:

Creates a new file of a specified size
E.g.: fsutil file createnew C:\testfile.txt 1000

Warning: use this command at your own risk...
Below is a list of supported commands:
  • Type: fsutil 8dot3name: 8dot3name management
  • Type: fsutil behavior: Control file system behavior
  • Type: fsutil dirty: Manage volume dirty bit
  • Type: fsutil file: File specific commands
  • Type: fsutil fsinfo: File system information
  • Type: fsutil hardlink: Hardlink management
  • Type: fsutil objectid: Object ID management
  • Type: fsutil quota: Quota management
  • Type: fsutil repair: Self healing management
  • Type: fsutil reparsepoint: Reparse point management
  • Type: fsutil resource: Transactional Resource Manager management
  • Type: fsutil sparse: Sparse file control
  • Type: fsutil transaction: Transaction management
  • Type: fsutil usn: USN management
  • Type: fsutil volume: Volume management

Monday, May 09, 2011

Windows 7: Advanced Format Disks Update

This topic is a more advanced then I generally discuss in this blog, but I am hoping it might be able to help some people whom might be using this technology.

Microsoft has release an update to improve Advanced Format Disks compatibility in the latest versions of Windows 7 (SP1) and Server 2008 R2 (SP1). The Advanced Format Disk is utilized when the physical media has been formatted with 4,096 bytes (4K) sector size, rather then the conventional 512 byte sector size.

The Advanced Format technology is more efficient for storing large files such as video files or large photographs stored in the RAW format. Another advantage of this technology is that it supports stronger error correction algorithms.

Not all application natively support writes based on 4 KB sectors to the physical media, so compatibility can come at the cost of performance and reliability based on the system workload and hardware implementation.

For individuals and organizations that utilize applications that can only use 512-byte Logical Block Addressing (known as “512-byte emulation disks” or “512e”) while leveraging a 4KB sector size on the physical media can download an update (KB 982018) from Microsoft to improve performance, reliability, and general interoperability of the Advanced Format Disks technology.

(See the KB 982018 for more information)

Friday, May 06, 2011

NSA's Best Practices for Keeping Your Home Network Secure

As you might have heard cyber-criminals are getting more sophisticated all the time.  To help protect people from becoming victims of these criminals, the NSA has published a PDF called "Best Practices for Keeping Your Home Network Secure".  The document offers some tips on how to secure your computer (Windows and Mac OS X) and your home network.

If you want a book that offers more in-depth information and advice on how to protect yourself and your family, check out my book called "Avoiding Information Insecurity: Fighting Modern Day Cyber-Threats (2011 Edition)"

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Find the precise location of just about any Wi-Fi router

Here is a slightly disturbing fact about wireless networks. Did you know Google uses its Android mobile operating system to collect Wi-Fi routers GPS location and store them in a public database? You can put in a router's MAC address (e.g. 08:00:69:02:01:FC) and see its precise location on Google Maps using this site (
Note: MAC address definition (from Wikipedia): A Media Access Control address (MAC address) is a unique identifier assigned to network interfaces for communications on the physical network segment.
I am not too worried about it, because I don't currently see any way for someone to exploit this data. When I tested it, I found it pretty accurate. Try it out and see if works for you.

Bonus tip: Do you want to lookup the manufacture of a MAC address?  Check out the following site (, put in the MAC address and it will tell you which vendor manufactured the device.