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Tuesday, November 4, 2008

What is the purpose of life?

Recently someone emailed me an excerpt of an Interview with Rick Warren. Rick was being asked about the purpose of life. What he said really made sense to me in light of what I have learned from studying God's word. Listed below is a paraphrase of that excerpt. It serves as a reminder for me of my purpose.

Life is preparation for eternity. We were made to last forever, and God wants us to be with Him in Heaven. This is the warm-up act - the dress rehearsal. God wants us to practice on earth what we will do forever in eternity.

We were made by God and for God. When you understand this life makes sense.

Life is a series of problems: Either you are in one now, you're just coming out of one, or you're getting ready to go into another one. The reason for this is that God is more interested in your character than your comfort. God is more interested in making your life holy than He is in making your life happy.

Our goal is to grow in character, in Christ likeness.

Rather than life being hills and valleys, I believe that it's kind of like two rails on a railroad track, and at all times you have something good and something bad in your life.

No matter how good things are in your life, there is always some thing bad that needs to be worked on.

And no matter how bad things are in your life, there is always something good you can thank God for.

You can focus on your purposes, or you can focus on your problems. If you focus on your problems, you're going into self-centeredness, 'which is my problem, my issues, my pain.' But one of the easiest ways to get rid of pain is to get your focus off yourself and onto God and others.

You have to learn to deal with both the good and the bad of life.

We need to ask ourselves:

Am I going to live for possessions? Popularity?
Am I going to be driven by pressures? Guilt? Bitterness? Materialism?
Or am I going to be driven by God's purposes (for my life)?

When I get up in the morning, I sit on the side of my bed and say, God, if I don't get anything else done today, I want to know You more and love You better. God didn't put me on earth just to fulfill a to-do list. He's more interested in what I am than what I do. That's why we're called human beings, not human doings.

Happy moments, PRAISE GOD. Difficult moments, SEEK GOD. Quiet moments, WORSHIP GOD. Painful moments, TRUST GOD. Every moment, THANK GOD. '

Sunday, October 5, 2008

My Dad

My Father became very ill in late September. For several weeks he was unconscious and in a Polio like paralysis. We eventually found out that he has tested positive for the West Nile Virus.

West Nile affects people differently, some get it and they don't even know it, some just have flu like symptoms for a few days, while others will get headaches that last for days. Currently there is no cure for West Nile, the body just needs to fight off the virus on it's own. In some cases, West Nile can lead to further complications, such as Meningitis (inflammation of the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord), Encephalitis (an acute inflammation of the brain), and Spinal meningitis (an infection of the fluid and membranes around the brain and spinal cord.) My father has all three of these conditions. He has already suffered nerve damage and was in a Polio like paralysis. He has been on a respirator for 16 days since he is unable to breathe on this own. While the nerve can regenerate itself (about 1" every 30 days), I'm told his lower body muscles will die without signal from brain leaving him paralyzed from the neck down. Furthermore there is additional neurological damage. This damage would leave him mentally incapacitated where he may or may not recognize us and/or be coherent. The outcome of this would require long term physical care.

On many occasions my father has indicated to each of us in the family that he did not wish to ever continue in a situation like this. On Tuesday afternoon September 30th 2008, we honored his request and had the medical staff remove him from the life supporting ventilator and as a result he passed away peacefully at 2pm.

My Father was a believer and we know that today he has joined Jesus in Paradise.

Always Close By and Always Available

My Dad was always close by and always available.

His words and achievements were like that of any normal man. However, what made my Dad extraordinary was his presence.

His presence was like a warm fireplace or a sturdy porch swing or a big branched elm tree, he was always a source of comfort. He could always be found … and leaned upon.

During the turbulent years of our adolescence, Dad was a large part of our lives that was predictable. Girl friends came and girl friends went, but Dad was there. Football season turned into baseball season and turned in to football season again and Dad was there. Whether is was dates, homework, my first car, or playing catch in the yard—they all had one thing in common; his presence.

And because he was there life went smoothly for us. The car always ran, the bills got paid, and the lawn stayed mowed. Because he was there, we kids never worried about things like income tax, savings accounts, monthly bills or mortgages, and we never went without. Because of him our future was secure.

He did what dads are supposed to do—be there. Through his example, he taught me right and wrong. He modeled the importance of getting up early, working hard and caring for others. And I knew if I ever needed him, he’d be there.

Because he was there my growing up was what God intended growing up to be for us, a safe place where we could be trained.

I know that times of trouble and testing will come for me (us) in the future. Even though he’s gone, my memory of him and his example will always be very near.

As far as Dad’s are concerned, I had one of the best and I want to thank my heavenly Father for providing him. I pray as time goes on, God allows me to continue to follow his example and be the best Husband, Dad, Brother, Uncle and Friend that I can be.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

I Mean Something To God

I'm not here as an accident or a random occurrence. I'm here because God wanted me here. He made me just the way I am for a purpose.

3 "Family of Jacob, listen to me!
All you people from Israel who are still alive, listen!
I have carried you since you were born;
I have taken care of you from your birth.
4 Even when you are old, I will be the same.
Even when your hair has turned gray, I will take care of you.
I made you and will take care of you.
I will carry you and save you. [Isa. 46:3-4 (Ncv)

God made me for a reason and I can discover this when I make God the reference point of my life.

Point to Ponder: I'm not an accident. God uniquely created me and I need to accept who I am and not struggle over appearance or status.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

What Am I Here For?

A life devoted to things is a dead life, a stump; a God-shaped life is a flourishing tree. [Proverbs 11:28 (Msg)]

“But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence. They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit." [Jer. 17:7-8 (NLT)]

The first sentence in Rick Warren's book, "The Purpose Drive Life", says a lot.... "It's not about you."

What I'm realizing is that my purpose in life is much larger than my own personal fulfillment, family, or career. I was put here by "His" purpose and by "His" will. The only way for me to discover what His purpose is for me, is to consult his written manual, The Bible.

In essence, life is really about letting God use me for his purpose, this is quite a contrast to what the world teaches us. I find myself trying to fit God into my desires or purposes.

The point for me to ponder today is "It's not about me!." So I need to remind myself that life is really about living for God, not me.

Purpose Driven Life

I've been thinking a lot about my purpose in life.

Recently my church went though a series on "The Road to Financial Freedom." Included in this was an opportunity to attend a one day seminar from Crown Financial Ministries. The whole series and the seminar provided a lot of detail on God's perspective toward money and possessions and really got me thinking about my walk with Christ.

The Key Points Were:

. "God is in Control." He owns and is involved in every thing.
. We are only stewards of his resources.
. With debt we become a slave to the lender.
. We are to enjoy (be content) with what he have given us.
. We are to give back, and those God will provide for others and allow us to be part of it.

From this series our church launched summer small groups for managing finances God's way. I was happy to volunteer to lead one of these small groups. As we began the study, the introduction was from Rick Warren and in it Rick pointed out that were five purposes for our lives. We are called to:

. Worship God
. Have Fellowship With God and Other
. Grow like Christ
. To Serve Others
. Be on-mission for God in the World

I decided to go back through Rick Warren's book "The Purpose Driven Life." What will follow in the next few weeks will be my observations and thoughts as I review this and as I go through with my group the materials on Managing our Finances God's Way.

I'm not sure if anyone will ever read my posts, however, I pray that God will use the insights, concepts and perspective's I write about to make a difference in the life of someone else.

Changes for this Site

I've been extremely busy the last several months (work, school, ministry, family..)

When I first created this blog, I intended to use it as a place to record what I'm studying or other interesting tidbits of valuable information I came across (mainly about Computers, Technology, and Security/Protection.

I've decided to switch things up a bit...

A while back I created another blog named "techideout.com." I've decided that I'll use the newer site to continue posting about technology there and use this site as a personal blog and to record my walk with Christ..

I'd still love to here your comments on the items I post so feel free to comment or email me directly at mark@gresak.com.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Key Ingredient in Making plans



In one of my most recent quiet times I came across James 4:13-16 (New Living Translation)


Photo by Koyochi

The sub-title for this passage was a "Warning about Self-Confidence" and it said:
"13 Look here, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year. We will do business there and make a profit." 14 How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it's here a little while, then it's gone. 15 What you ought to say is, "If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that." 16 Otherwise you are boasting about your own plans, and all such boasting is evil."

James points out some interesting comments/warnings here about how we should make our plans...

  • We often take for granted what will be available to us today, tomorrow and the future. And we can tend to put our confidence in our own abilities.

  • James warns us that we do not always know what lies ahead for us. This life in comparison with eternity is like a brief fog that occupies only a brief portion of the day. Here one moment, gone the next.

  • James continues to warn us that what we should be saying/thinking is, if the Lord wants us to, we will. God is in control!


Does this mean that we shouldn't have plans or goals?

  • It is good to have plans or goals, however, these plans and goals will disappoint us if we leave God out of them.

  • There's no point in making plans as though God does not exist or is not a part of it, because the future is really in his hands.
  • The key ingredient is including God!


If your like me, I have lots of plans/goals going on right now. This passage is pointing out that I need to review these to be sure that I'm including God and His desires within them.

In Summary:

  • It's important that I put God at the center of my life

  • Make plans, however, make sure they are in line with His desires

  • Talk/pray to God for wisdom and insight

  • Continue to Love people in the process

  • Continue to meet and discuss plans/goals regularly


So, Plan ahead... but hold your plans loosely. Be Sure to put God's desires at the center of your planning, he will never disappoint you.

Let me know if this perspective has been helpful to you. I appreciate your comments and love to hearing from you.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

RSS, how can it help me?


I admit it... For the longest time, I ignored RSS and what it was all about or what it could do!

I know, some of you may say, "wow, your a technology guy and you didn't use this?"

Well in the past I only briefly looked at RSS and understood that it could deliver some content. For me, I was used to going to each site I liked and manually seeing what was new.

Recently in my studies of how to blog, I was turned on to the power of RSS for the blogger and for the subscriber (reader.) It's definitely worth looking into.

Ok, so you may ask (like I did), if its really simple then how come it doesn't really jump out at me about what it could do?

After doing a little research I found, the most common definition is RSS is "Really Simple Syndication."

RSS describes formats used to publish content that is frequently updated such as blogs, news feeds or even podcasts. An RSS document, which is also commonly referred to as a "feed," "web feed," or "channel," contains either a summary of content being published or the full text from a source web site.

What it does is reverse the typical process.

• Instead of you going out to see what's new
• Your favorite web site provides you with an update that something has been added or has changed


So, an RSS feed makes it possible for you to keep up with your favorite web sites in an automated manner that's easier than checking each of them manually. If you find something in your reader that you want to investigate in further, clicking the link will take you directly to the web site that published it.

So how can you get started?

RSS content can be read using software called an "RSS reader", "feed reader" or an "aggregator". You would subscribe (much like subscribing to a magazine, but much better, there's no cost) to a feed by entering the feed's link into the reader or by clicking an RSS icon on your browser that initiates the subscription process. The reader software then checks the user's subscribed feeds regularly for new content, downloading any updates that it finds.

The easiest software to get started with it "Google Reader."

If your still a little fuzzy on this concept I found a great video you can watch that will make it easier to understand called “RSS in Plain English.”


www.commoncraft.com/rss_plain_english

So logon to Google Reader and get started today! You can even add my RSS feed for Gresak.com or Techideout.com.

Let me know what you think?

Saturday, February 23, 2008

New Adventure in blogging


It's been a little while since I last posted a message here, so I wanted to provide a little background as to what's going on with me. On one of my previous posts (Feb. 7th) I talked about my recent interest in the technology of Blogging and Podcasting. Well, I decided to move forward in researching how to properly create and publish a blog (one which would benefit others.)

I know, I've been blogging for a while (essentially random bits of technology, etc.) however, I really wanted to learn more about creating one that provides benefit and is interesting / entertaining to read.

So, I began my research, and made some decisions and put together a plan. Then I purchased a new domain name and obtained my own web hosting account.

The basics of this new site is now up and operational however, I'm still making some changes to it.

The new site is "techideout.com", and its will be dedicated to Technical Tips, Tutorials/How-to’s, Utilities and News for techies.

Now that I have gleaned a fair amount of knowledge about creating a blog, I'll do a future series of posts on how I established my blog. You can use the points I found to help establish one of your own, or let me know how well I've achieved my goal.

I'll still retain this blog for various topics, however, most of the technical posts will be on Techideout. Look forward to seeing and interacting with you there!

If you’ve started your own blog, send me a comment about your adventures. I love hearing from you so feel free to comment on this post or just let me know how I'm doing.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Built-in VNC on your VMWare virtual machines.


Here's a cool feature you might find handy for remotely controlling/managing virtual machines via VNC.

VNC display support is actually pre-installed in many of the VMWare products. The tip I found said this was for VMWare server, however in my own testing I found that it worked with VMWare Player hosted virtual sessions as well.

To enable this feature, all you need to do to is to locate and open up the .vmx file for the virtual machine in a text editor, and add the following line:

RemoteDisplay.vnc.enabled = TRUE

Adding this line enables standard VNC display support for the virtual machine. After doing so, just launch your virtual machine and then your VNC Viewer and enter the host's IP address (not the virutal machine's IP) into the VNC server field.

You can also add a "RemoteDisplay.vnc.port = " (i.e. "RemoteDisplay.vnc.port = 5902") line to specify a unique port otherwise by default it will use 5900. One key thing to note, each different simultaneous virtual machine on the same host will require a different port number, especially if you already have VNC server installed and enabled on your host system at port 5900.

See the kb article from VMware below for more information.

http://kb.vmware.com/selfservice/microsites/search.do?cmd=displayKC&externalId=1246

Here's an excerpt from one of my virtual machine .vmx files that I'm successfully using this on...

RemoteDisplay.vnc.enabled = TRUE
RemoteDisplay.vnc.port = 5902

Have any other cool tricks or tips for VMware / VNC or let me know if you find this useful?

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Blogging and Podcasting


I really enjoy learning about new technology. For the past year or so I've become addicted to listening to various podcasts (especially ones about technology and security.) They are part of my daily routine. I listen to them while walking on the treadmill in the morning or listening to them as an alternative to commercial radio (the steam of advertising annoys me) while driving to and from work.

Podcasts offer me the ability to select the programming I really enjoy while stimulating me to learn more and/or try out various links, software or procedures I come across.

Recently two things are starting to interest me more. One is blogging and the other is podcasting. While I have been blogging little by little each month, I really don't understand much about the overall blogosphere and world of blogging. The other area of interest is Podcasting. While, I'm not thinking that I want to start my own podcast (at least not for a while), I am intrigued by the technology used to create them and have begun to study how they are put together. My sincere appreciation goes out to those who put in many extra effort and hours to produce this content.

If you find yourself interested in these two areas as well, here's a link I learned about from Todd Cochrane's podcast at geeknewscentral that you want to check out. "podcastFAQ.com" is a site dedicated to providing information about podcasting and you'll find it at http://www.podcastfaq.com.

Who knows, maybe one day I may have my own podcast... hmmmm..... Well at least for now, I'm going to learn more about publishing a blog others can benefit from.

Point me to other tips you come across and feel free to let me know how I'm doing. I appreciate your comments and love to hearing from you.

Note: Todd Cochrane's podcast can be found at http://www.geeknewscentral.com. I find his site and podcast to be very informative (he makes you feel like your part of his family!) Give him a listen!

Monday, February 4, 2008

Just Installed PCLinuxOS for my folks


This past weekend, I used one of our old desktop computers to install a copy of PCLinuxOS 2007. I took this updated system over to my parents house for them to try out as an alternative to their aging Windows XP system (I was about ready to re-load the OS on this one.)

To get it ready to use, I ported over a copy of their existing Bookmarks from Internet Explorer and then imported them into Firefox (so that they could have the links they were used to getting to.)

I must say, overall the system now boots really quickly. And even more impressive is how responsive it is now when surfing various internet pages over lower speed DSL.

I choose this distribution of linux, because I liked what I experienced when I used it. Everything I was accustomed to doing on the internet worked right out of the box (such as streaming youtube videos and other forms of audio files.) It uses the KDE desktop and the folks at PCLinuxOS have have made the desktop and menu's look a lot like a general windows system (which I think will be easier for them to get used to.)

I'm expecting this setup to be so much more secure that what they are accustomed to experiencing on Windows XP (my folks were constantly being subject to spy and malware installations.)

First off, the OS is linux (linux is not subject to as many exploits.) Secondly they are not logging in with a root equivalent account (so it's difficult for anything malicious to enter the system now.) Thirdly Internet Explorer is no longer being used. Firefox is now the main browser (a much more secure browser, I even added Ad-blocker plus to keep down the amount of advertising that was being streamed to them.)

The old computer I loaded this on only has 256mb of ram, and a 40mb hard disk. However, PCLinuxOS 2007 (a Mandriva* based install) runs really well with this (I did experience a bug with the OS's auto temp setting which made the OS think the system was overheating causing it to shut the system down when it really wasn't getting hot). To make it a simpler transition, I also placed desktop icons of Open Office Writer (word processor) and Calc (spreadsheet).

So far, its a tremendous improvement over the current performance of their Windows XP home edition and they seem to be pleased with it. I'm going to let them run on it for a while to see if they like it. If so, I'll convert the rest of their files, hook up the scanner and the printer.

Here's a link to the PCLinuxOS website. Also, here's a great link for getting the best out of any PCLinuxOS install.

http://www.pclinuxos.com/
http://www.howtoforge.com/the_perfect_desktop_pclinuxos_2007

What's your experience with PCLinuxOS or other Linux Distributions? It appears to be a great OS to bring life back into old systems.

(* Note: 2/5/08, I originally mis-represented PCLinxOS as being Debian based, however it is actually based on Mandrake/Mandriva, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PCLinuxOS#Relationship_with_Mandriva_Linux for more info.)

Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Perfect Ubuntu Desktop

I came across this link. I thought it was an excellent howto on setting up a great ubuntu desktop. Most items I had, however, I discovered a few as well. If you're interested in getting Ubuntu running give this link a test run.

http://www.howtoforge.com/the_perfect_desktop_ubuntu_gutsy_gibbon

Let me know what you think?

Sunday, January 27, 2008

File hosting - another alternative

Here's another alternative for Free File hosting.

Online storage for your files. Box offers web-based access, sharing and protection of your documents, photos, and files

Mitch Keeler of Webhostingshow.com says this is one of his top choices.

If you try it, let me know what you think?

You can find them at http://www.box.net/

Easy Website Publishing (excellent price)

I stumbled upon a site where you can create a personal web site/blog for a great price (free!) I created a website using it just a few minutes ago... check out gresak.webnode.com. They'll give you 100mb disk space and 5gb of bandwidth usage.

The system was very easy to use. It has fast editing and you can use drag-and-drop items from the tool bar. From what I can tell Webnode is completely free.

Check it out and let me know what you think... Post your new website link so that others can check it out as well...

http://www.webnode.com/en/

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Safer internet surfing experience?

If you'd like a safer internet surfing experience, consider adding the "NoScript" add-on to your Firefox browser.

There's just way too many bad guys out their that would like to find a way to exploit your system. Malicious code from a web site can do this to you via allowed java, adobe flash, Microsoft Silverlight, Active X type scripting.

For a while now, I've been listening to Steve Gibson (Security Now podcast) and he strongly recommends that you disable scripting. However, if scripting is disabled there's a strong chance that many unknown websites you visit will not work correctly. Well there's a great Firefox add-on that can assist you. NoScript allows JavaScript, Java (and other plug-ins) only for trusted domains of your choosing (i.e. your bank, or other routing sites you've come accustomed to trusting.) This "whitelist" based pre-emptive blocking approach prevents exploitation.

Check it it out by searching for "NoScript"

Tools | Add-ons | Get Extensions
In the search bar, type in "noscript"

Here's a direct link to it... https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/722

I've just installed it. I'll provide an update later.

Let me know what you think about this topic or this product?

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Ubuntu 7.10 Gutsy Gibbon

Over the weekend I re-installed Ubuntu Linux on my home computer in a dual boot fashion. I'm really impressed with how well Ubuntu Linux performs on my older T3985.

I enabled the Compiz graphics and now my ATI video system can do awesome desktop Grahpics. I also purchased an additional 1gb of ram and a 500mb Buffalo USB drive recently. I'm hoping to use Ubuntu as my primary OS for surfing the web (Linux/Firefox is a much better combination for avoiding spyware/bad scripts from sites.)

I'll create a new vmware version of XP to do testing, company vpn, etc...

Another free web server for your system

Abyss Web Server is a compact web server available for Windows, MacOS X, Linux and FreeBSD operating systems. Abyss Web Server does not require huge memory or excessive computing power to run. It has an intuitive web management interface called the console that makes the web server configuration as easy as browsing a web site. No need to edit configuration files, the console helps you setting the server parameters in an effortless manner and can be accessed from a local or a remote computer

Abyss Web Server

Visit http://www.aprelium.com

Thursday, January 17, 2008

File hosting made simple (and the price is right!)

Ever have the need to pass a large file to someone else, however, you have limits on the size of file you can send via your email system? MediaFire appears to offer a solution for this. They offer free file hosting in a simple fashion and at the right price - Free!

They offer unlimited disk space and the ability to send a file upt 100mb in size. You can upload without an account even. However, creating an account will help you keep track of what you have uploaded and its link.

For more info Visit http://www.mediafire.com/

Here's a link to a test file I created...
http://www.mediafire.com/?dizdjtejtw2

This is just something I stumbled across while surfing tonight. I think this may come in handy in the future and I'll probably use to add files to my blog.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Definition of a Real Man

A week or two ago, my Church had a men's meeting. The purpose of this meeting is to help provide us guys with Biblical wisdom / perspective on what God intends for me to do.

An awesome description was quoted by Randy Lanthripe our pastor. It comes from the book "Raising a Modern Day Knight: A Father's Role in Guiding His Son to Authentic Manhood" by Robert Lewis

A Real Man...

Rejects Passivity
Accepts Responsibility
Leads Courageously
Expects the Greater (Longer Term) Reward.

This definition has stuck with me. It reminds me of areas I need to consistently strengthen.

"Rejecting Passivity" - Sometimes its much easier to just sit back and see if things will smooth out for themselves or just wait till someone else deals with it. This reminds me that, if I see something that needs to be done, I need to engage and deal with it.

"Accepting Responsibility" - Its much easier to sit on the couch or hide away with distractions (TV, Movies, Video Games, Internet Surfing -- ouch). A real man needs to step up and lead and make a difference.

"Lead Courageously" - Throughout the Old Testament, God had the writers infuse the idea of "Being Strong and Courageous" (Deut. 3:28, 31:6-7, Joshua 1:6-9, 1 Chron. 28:20, 2 Chron. 13:18).

"Expects the Greater (Longer Term) Reward" - Put off today's immediate reward (satisfaction / pleasures) for the big picture. Also being part of something that will meaningful and something that will last until eternity.

I'm going to strive to continually add these character traits to my life. What kind of man will you be?

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

An option to help protect your on-line surfing

Here's an option to help protect your on-line surfing even more... OpenDNS.

OpenDNS blocks phishing sites (the bad sites that pretend to be good sites by using slight misspellings, they will often trick you into thinking your on the real site and ask you to login giving them your user id/password.) In addition it gives you the power to block adult and other non-desirable sites.

Another cool feature displays your most frequently visited sites on your network, and then allow you block them with a single click (could be good for keeping the kids out of the sites you don't want them to get into.)

I think I'll give it a try. Can't really hurt!

Visit http://opendns.com/ for more info...

Firefox Optimization

I really like using Firefox as my web browser, however I just learned that the Firefox browser is actually optimized for dial-up connections by default. Luckily there are some tips for getting the best performance over DSL, Cable or other high speed links.

Firefox broadband optimization tips... (Courtesy of the Mike Tech Show Podcast)

Type in "about:config" in the address bar for Firefox and press enter.

Next locate and double click each of the following entries...

network.http.pipelining (change the setting from false to true)
network.http.pipelining.maxrequest (change the setting from 4 to 15)
network.http.proxy.pieplining (change the setting from false to true)

Next, right-click anywhere on page and select "new integer", Then enter nglay-out.initialpaint.delay (then click ok.) Go ahead and set the value to 0 and click ok again.

For more info see the Mike Tech Show's Firefox Tweaks page. "http://miketechshow.com/firefox/"

Monday, January 14, 2008

Happy New Year! Time to Patch

I heard Steve Gibson/Leo Laporte (Security Now Podcast) discussing a serious new problem that you should patch right away. An attacker could try to exploit the vulnerability by creating specially crafted network packets and sending the packets to an affected system and then gaining complete control of it.

See

Microsoft Windows TCP/IP IGMP MLD Remote Buffer Overflow Vulnerability

-and-

Microsoft (MS08-001) Vulnerabilities in Windows TCP/IP Could Allow Remote Code Execution (941644)

First MAC

Bought our first MAC (MacBook Pro) this past weekend for my daughter. She's a graphics/visual arts major and we came to the point in which she really needed it for class projects (they are using adobe creative suite.)

I have been a PC user since early 1980 (actually my first computer I worked on was an Apple IIe, which is far from what the Mac and OS X turned out to be. I have to say, I didn't think it was as intuitive as many say they are.

It took a while to get used to it. It does has a well built feel to the construction. I'm sure more blogs will come on this topic.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Windows XP Patches - "offline-update"

Installing a fresh copy of Windows XP can be a long drawn out process. Depending on the date of your original copy, you will ulitmately need to go to the Microsoft update site and then download, reboot, download reboot, etc, etc, etc...

Heise Security offers an alternative to this utilizing scripts available from Microsoft.

Version 3 of their recent script collection called "Offline Update" requires only a few steps to obtain a current service pack at any time, combining all released Windows updates at the time of download. The download script acquires the complete update library for selected operating systems from Microsoft's servers and uses them to created ISO images for CDs or DVDs as desired. These in turn can be used to update as many PCs as you wish.

According the the developers, "Offline update is not intended to replace the mechanism specified by Microsoft for bringing Windows up to date via Internet. It is intended to provide removable storage media with security updates for PCs, after which they can be brought safely onto the internet. A self-assembled service pack can be quite practical when making "house calls" for acquaintances or clients who lack a broadband internet connection or who have previously been skittish about patching."

This makes me feel a lot better about tackling the Windows XP re-install for my parents.

Visit their website at: http://www.heise-security.co.uk/articles/80682

Happy Updating!

A great home computer backup program using off-site storage for very little cost (2gb is free)

Ask any IT professional and they will tell you the number one thing everyone should do is backup, backup, backup! (Otherwise we suffer the "Agony of Delete!".)

Enter "Mozy." I just heard about this program for a few folks who were discussing how they do backups for themselves and for their clients. So I started to check it out and here's what I found.

You can go to Mozy.com (by the way Mozy is now owned by EMC) and get running in 3 steps:

1. Sign up for an account (allows you to download the software.
2. Download and install the software
3. Select the files to be backed up

It uses SSL encryption for the data transfer/transport and 448-bit blowfish encryption for the files. Backups can be scheduled automatically. After the initial backup, MozyHome will only backup adds or changes.

The home version gives you up to 2gb of space.

Mozy is different from other traditional types of backups. For the most part many are use to burning the files to CD, or copying the files to a usb drive or another computer. Some of us that have been around a long time even use to save them to tape.

There are pros and cons.

Pros:
It's cheap, the mozy home gives you 2gb free. (They also sell an unlimited version for around $5.00/month.)
It's secure (you transfer to their off-line server in a secure manner and the data that is saved is encrypted.)
It's off-site (it's not subject to any natural disasters that may occur, i.e. fire, water damage, etc..)

Cons:
When you need to recover, it may take you a while to get all your data back (it's transferring it back from the internet off-site storage to your computer.)
The first backup is probably going to take a while (your going to transfer upto 2gb of data.)

Best best is to review your needs, time, and budget.

Just some comments to ease the pain of the cons...

If you had to use a restore, plan out how you get your files back first. You should probably just select the stuff you need absolutely first, then do a different restore for those files you can wait on, this way you won't have wait as long for the stuff you need right away.

I've not experienced it yet firsthand, however I've been told that to do a restore, you select the backup set or drives/folders via their website. Once you've made and committed your selection, Mozy will bundle up those files into a series of self-extracting archives and then send you an email when they’re ready to be picked up.

As with any backup system, you don't just want to set it up and forget about. Be sure to check on it from time to time to be sure it's really backing things up. This means checking the backup history or log files. Look for actual completion, sometimes an error can cause a program to terminate.

Visit https://mozy.com/home

Your own local web server (fast and easy)

Ever wanted to have your own web server to learn HTML, etc...

For the most part it requires you install web server software and other utility programs and work your way through making the appropriate configurations.

Today I heard about an application that takes all of the hard work away.

XAMPP is an easy to install Apache distribution containing MySQL, PHP and Perl. XAMPP is really very easy to install and to use - just download, extract and start.

Visit: http://www.apachefriends.org/en/xampp.html

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Re-installing Windows XP

It will eventually happen. Your Windows XP system will become slow and sluggish. Best remedy to correct this is a fresh re-install of the operating system. This of course is a several hour task at best and can involve tracking down software license keys, configuration settings, etc... My parents Windows XP system is now at this point and I'll soon be embarking on the process of the re-install.
However, before you re-install, there are few things you should have available to you or things/settings you should know about the current system before you do this. There are so many things to remember to look at and just when you think you have it all, you discover later that you missing something. A checklist is in order to help you remember these items. A while back I heard Mike Smith from the "www.miketechshow.com" taking about this very thing. He had a link from a past podcast show that I thought I would pass along. It's his version of a "Windows Reinstall Checklist." I know I'll be printing this out and looking it over to make sure I've captured, backed-up and copied all the relevant information that the system will need. (By the way, I have used this same checklist in the past to rebuild my Daughters home XP system after it got infected with some crazy spyware after downloading a myspace page theme.

Here's the link to the PDF File...

Also, here's another great link about slip streaming XP SP2 into your install to save time from Paul Thurrott's SuperSite for Windows.

Good Luck with any re-installs you have..

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Create your own Blog Site with your own Personal Web Address (URL) for about $10.00 a year.

Yes, you Can create a Blog Web Site with your own Personal Web Address (URL) for about $10.00 a year. This is how I'm hosting this blog.

Steps:

1. You can obtain a domain name first (most can be purchased for around $10.00/year), Here are a few... Yahoo, or GoDaddy (this is optional, as you can also purchase the domain name from Google later, however if you do this option, you need to create a "CNAME" record in your DNS settings that points to ghs.google.com.)
2. Sign-up for a free blog with Google's Blogger.
3. Create your content on the blog
4. Within the Blogger Dashboard, goto "Settings", then "Publishing" from your Blogger options and then select "Buy a domain for your blog" (this is where you can buy one) or the "Already own a domain? Switch to advanced settings" links.

Happy Blogging!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Another New Favorite Live Linux Distro

I've been playing a lot with BackTrack a live linux distribution. This distro has many, many features already installed to assist you in doing your own penetration testing. Also the Firefox works great showing almost all types of video/audio without any modifications (which means your ready for internet surfing without worry.) I've been running it as a live CD under VMPlayer (another great program for your system), this way you don't even have to reboot your computer to use it. Backtrack 2 is the latest stable version, however, they are in beta on Backtrack 3. You can get both at http://www.remote-exploit.org/backtrack.html.

I don't promote using this for bad intentions, please use it responsibly to review your own systems and give you insight on what to protect on your own system.

Happy Exploring.

When Opposed, Learn to Choose Worship over Worry

In review of 1 Peter 3:14-15 it tells me that “ If I suffer for doing what is right , God will reward me for it . So don’t worry or be afra...