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.

Using My Words to Build Others Up

In review of Ephesians 4:29 it warns me to “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building ...