Archive for the 'Random' Category

Counter, the counterfeit flash drive

I’ve only just discovered this useful utility called H2testw 1.4.

So if you’ve bought one from eBay that looks a little dodgy, check it out.

A quote from the website

We give H2testw 1.4 the highest rating and recommend it for testing counterfeit USB Flash Drives for the following reasons:

  1. Easy to Use
  2. While in German an English Execution is possible
  3. Stand alone executable file – no installation required to run it
  4. You do not need administrator privileges on a computer to run it
  5. Tested to work on 1.1 and 2.0 USB drives
  6. Tested to work on 1.1 and 2.0 USB Ports
  7. Tested to work to analyze drives advertised as 4GB, 8GB, 16GB, 32GB and yes …64 GB capacity.
  8. Reports seen capacity – what the operating system sees size to be.
  9. Will write 1 GB files up to the reported size – requiring no work on your part except patience if it is a large drive and a slow computer
  10. Will read all the files it wrote and verify them
  11. Will produce a report. a) short if all is well b) detailed if there issues found.
  12. The program is offered free

Visit: here

SC



O2 Joggler

I’ve just taken delivery of an O2 Joggler. They are reduced to £49.99 (from £99.99) till the end of this month, but it seems I got one of the last ones as they are now out of stock!

o2-joggler-openpeak-frame-review-1
Figure 1 – the joggler running the default OS - (picture from pocket-lint.com)

o2-joggler-openpeak-frame-review-2
Figure 2 – shows the fixed stand (it can’t be adjusted)  - (picture from pocket-lint.com)

Like many people, I was originally very confused by the marketing slant put on it by O2 when it was first released last year. I certainly was not prepared to be an early adopter when it was priced at £149.99, since it was a solution looking for a problem that never really existed. At £50, it is a bargain, since you can install netbook flavours of ubuntu, and the development community are working on android installations.

First and foremost, this device does NOT have any battery, so it is fixed in place once you plug it in. It is also NOT a phone. It does not have a sim card slot. This device relies on you having your own internet provider in your house. Connectivity is either Ethernet (it comes with an Ethernet cable) or wifi.

Even with this in mind the specification is rather good for an item that looks so refined. It reminds me of an apple product when I look at it.

  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi
  • Screen: 7 inch Touchscreen
  • Resolution: 800 x 480 pixels
  • Memory: 1 Gig onboard, expandable via USB.
  • Power: Mains only.
  • Video formats: MPEG-2, MPEG-4 part 2, MPEG-4 part 10 (H.264), WMV 9, DivX, Vc1, FLV
  • Audio formats: MP3, WAV, WMA
  • Size: 180 x 130 x 115mm.
  • Weight: 700 grams

There is an O2 app store where you can download new apps direct to your joggler, however there aren’t that many yet!

I think the stock OS is really pretty! It is also surprisingly usable. The on screen keyboard is also great compared to the abominations I’ve had to endure on various touch screen phones.

The stock OS is flash based. All developed apps that run on the stock OS are flash applications. This has advantages and disadvantages. The advantage is that pretty much anyone can create something. The main disadvantages are that we are not able to develop internet browsers, since flash does not support that.

However, if you really must have all that….

Custom OS installations are performed by USB stick with a flavour of linux on it, and it is possible to use it with a keyboard if you connect to the joggler using a USB hub.

I can understand why this device never really took off, but at bargain prices it will be snapped up for it’s potential!

Useful links:

Development / Information Forum (not official O2)
Jogger help (official O2)
Pocket-link Joggler review
Hack the joggler

I look forward to using my jogger to keep track of my ever changing calendar (oh, and SWMBO’s calendar too :-))… well at least until I get bored of it, then I can have a play with some custom apps and maybe even using it with linux.

SC



Interim fix for Sophos 7.6.8 issues on Windows Vista x64

This is not a fix for all the issues raised in my previous posts, but a workaround released by Sophos for Sophos customers.

Sophos is expecting version 7.6.9 to be released at the end of the month, and it include the registry key noted, and the fix is tentatively slated to be released in 7.6.10 at the end of July.  This will allow for proper and complete testing of the proposed fix for this issue

The packages to request from Sophos support are:

  1. "Windows Endpoint Security and Control 8.0 with SAV v7.6.8 S215 VDL4.42E" – for enterprise customers (distributed install)
  2. "Sophos Anti-Virus for Windows v7.6.8 S215 VDL4.42E" – for home/standalone customers.

This contains the following registry key set:
32-bit: HKLM\Software\Sophos\Webscanning\SuppressBHOLoader
64-bit: HKLM\Software\WOW6432Node\Sophos\Webscanning\SuppressBHOLoader

Please get in touch with Sophos support to get the URL to retrieve this interim workaround.

SC



Update on Sophos Issues

This is an update for posts

  1. Sophos IE8 add-on prevents IE8 from loading
  2. Resolution to Windows Security Centre not recognising Sophos Antivirus
  3. Sophos Antivirus on Windows Vista HP x64 not detected by Windows Security Centre
  4. Vista SP2 doesn’t recognize Sophos AV anymore

I’ve been in contact with Sophos support and they inform me:

The Windows Security Centre issue only affects 64 bit systems and will be corrected in the 7.6.9 version due out at the end of the month.

Sophos are aware of the IE8 issue as well.  IE8 will usually open if you use the link at the top of the start menu, or if you run as administrator.  To temporarily work around this issue, you can disable the BHO from within IE Options (this will disable the web scanning).  Sophos are currently waiting for more information from their Development Team on this particular issue

SpittingCAML



Organisational communication strategy

How does your organisation work? Does it promote informal communication, blogging and wikis? Do you spend your free time doing most of your research/blogging to help you be a better employee for your organisation?

Do you engage in the community, without backing from your team/department?

There’s some interesting research out there on this particular topic, you’d be right in thinking that Google operates as a type 4 organisation (see below) and that some of the less successful IT companies are type 1 and 2. I’m proud to say that mine is somewhere in between 3 and 4 and hopefully becoming more 4, and given some more time a 5.

Types of organisation (… and typical retention of talent and empowerment profile shown in Figure 1)

  1. Formal organisation
    • Communication top down
    • Communication mediums are controlled top down
  2. Forums, wikis and chat
    • Enablement of online knowledge transfer between workers
    • Efforts to take control of the knowledge capital by structuring top down
  3. Blogging tolerated
    • Value of the voice of the workforce appreciated outside the organisation
    • Blogging code of conduct is defined
  4. Internal social interaction space exists but no funding
    • Internal blogging space supported
    • No official funding for user generated content
    • No top down direction on its use
  5. Social capital integrated into organisation strategy
    • Empowerment of employees is written into company strategy
    • The infrastructure is provided and funded top down.

image 
Figure 1: Empowerment of the employee journey. Adapted from Karen Lawrence, published in BCS ITNOW May 2009

Measuring social capital in the workplace

A way of getting buy in from the owner/CEO/shareholders is to present information as metrics. Lots of metrics are out there, but this is a good basis for a good argument for moving to become a type 5 organisation.

Employee Social Capital (ESC) = Employee * Weighting1
Weighting1 = Knowledge Capital * Linkage * Relationship Building * Information Seeking * Information Sharing
Employee Knowledge Capital (EKC) = Employee competencies * Weighting2
Weighting2 = Intellectual property created * Project specific knowledge * Internal knowledge
Team Social Capital (TSC) = ESC * # team members
Employee worth of Social Capital to Team = ESC / TSC

A team with lots of social capital is going to more successful and content. This is only a taster, and I’ll have to buy the book like everyone else to get the big picture.

Read Karen Lawrence’s book: Virtual Shadows: Your Privacy in the Information Society – I haven’t got a copy myself yet!

Further research in other fields can be found on this topic. A particularly interesting one is an investigation into the correlation of workplace social capital and depression.

SpittingCAML



Resolution to Windows Security Centre not recognising Sophos Antivirus

I gave up in the end (see this post and comments) and went for a new install of Sophos AV, just in case one of the updates made it go pear shaped.

If you have a Sophos support account it should be no issue to go to their site and retrieve Version 7.6.x

image

I downloaded and ran the installer, and it seemed fine just overwriting the version already installed.

image

Security Centre is now happy… but for how long? :-)… I’m just off to tell Sophos support :-) who have been most helpful… this is why I don’t use a free AV :-)

SpittingCAML



Sophos Antivirus on Windows Vista HP x64 not detected by Windows Security Centre

I want my evening back!

Paranoia set in when I turned my PC on about four hours ago… Vista had been happily reporting that my machine was protected (for the last year+)… and it was, because it is loaded with Sophos Antivirus 7.6.8.. and it updated itself when I turned the machine on..

image

So why would Microsoft make me paranoid with this old chestnut:

image

I ran windows defender full scan, then for good measure the Conficker removal tool… then a full virus check… nothing found… hmm I thought, I’ll give the search engines a go.

Sophos appeared to know all about the issue, but it was stored deep in their knowledge base.

Microsoft also had ‘Windows Security Centre does not detect the antivirus application that is installed on a Windows Vista-based computer’ KB article. KB952923

I’m going to try the hotfix, and will report back if I doesn’t work… I’ll be paying close attention to the Sophos knowledge base as it seems to have more steps that Microsoft originally intended.

SpittingCAML



Sophos Antivirus on Windows 7 RC (Build 7100)

As you may be aware, Windows 7 has a number of beta products and applications that you can download to help protect your Windows 7 RC system.

Dwight Silverman: Getting the Windows 7 RC? You’ll need protection

Sophos is our corporate AV supplier, so it was important that I maintain similar protection on my Windows 7 RC laptop system.

Sophos is not listed amongst the Windows 7 antivirus partners, however, I can happily report that Sophos 7.6.7 (designed for Vista) works great for me on my x86 version of Windows 7 RC. It also worked great on a Virtual Machine running the x64 version of Windows 7 Beta. Pictures shown here are from the x86 version of Windows 7 running on a mid spec laptop.

imageFigure 1: Sophos AV 7.6.7 working on Windows 7 RC

windows7_av_002  
Figure 2: Sophos system tray icon

windows7_av_003
Figure 3: Sophos Antivirus is not totally compatible with Windows 7

As you can see in Figure 3, the only snag with running this in Windows 7 is that is doesn’t report its status in the correct format, however, I’m watching the space for a new version of Sophos to be fully functional very soon.

windows7_av_001Figure 4: Action centre – showing Sophos AV is functioning correctly

Figure 4 shows that whilst Windows 7 acknowledges the fact that Sophos does not report status correctly to it, the application itself is fully functioning.

windows7_av_004
Figure 5: Sophos Antivirus start screen

I know some of you reading this will be asking why I don’t simply pick a free alternative, such as Avast! or AVG… I have considered going that way, but Sophos works great, and why fix it if it doesn’t seem to be broken!

I do hope the lab team at Sophos fix that status issue very soon, as it is the only minor flaw.

I cannot give enough superlatives for this new operating system, it is the most stable RC I’ve ever had the pleasure to use, and works a treat on my mid spec laptop (new in 2005).

SpittingCAML

P.S. please let me know if you are successfully using Sophos on Windows 7 RC :-)



Worming tablets required

I think our IT department learnt a very valuable lesson today!

Most of our servers are behind a fortress of firewalls, VPN connections and yet, today, we find ourselves ashamed of what has happened!

The Conficker grade E worm (Worm:Win32/Conficker.E: identified by the MMPC on April 8, 2009) made its way onto our network. It matters not how it got there, but does point the finger at our inadequate antivirus products, or perhaps it was more complacency…. no single machine is directly linked with the outside world, we use linux and unix based firewalls… it couldn’t affect us… could it?

Well it did… the investigation is on… my detective hat is on, and my finger is pointed at a small section of the network that has an un-patched server infrastructure. The reasons for not patching them almost outweigh the hassle it is to deal with today’s attack… for antiquated pieces of software/hardware that we can’t replace/rewrite* simply don’t run on operating systems with a patch! I’m sure there are other organisations out there with similar problems.

Have a read of what it does: here

It is rather nasty, and has the ability to block access to certain websites, certain applications and certain system administration tasks! (am I the only one to think it is rather clever?… not that I applaud the application of this genius in any way!)

As most of what you’ll read on the internet is about solution to it, I thought I’d share one of the most annoying symptoms

  • Account lockout policies being activated.

This one was a huge issue for us! With just under 7000 active directory users in the entire organisation, roughly 2500 were locked out… and this number kept rising all day. As you’d imagine, frustrated users were on the phone to the helpdesk, and some people, because of this issue did not deliver the service that our customers expect.

So fed up of the issue, and not being able to do our normal tasks today (the source control system went down, all our SharePoint boxes were down to be patched/checked), a colleague and I wrote a windows form application in C# that periodically queried our active directory to look for locked out accounts.

ad_accounts_locked Figure 1: Locked out user account tracker

The progress bar in Figure 1 shows the amount of users affected by this worm. A significant number!

The vet has been called, and a dose of software patches are on the way. Look in the research URLs below if you are yourself scrabbling for a solution. Good Luck :-)

SpittingCAML

* We could replace/rewrite them but it would be far too expensive and disruptive to the business!

Research:

Removing autorun might help prevent spread of the worm
F-secure FAQ on conficker
F-secure technical description of conficker
Conficker Worm: Help Protect Windows from Conficker

Individuals with information about the Conficker worm are encouraged to contact their international law enforcement agencies. Additionally, Microsoft has implemented an Antivirus Reward Hotline, +1-425-706-1111, and an Antivirus Reward Mailbox, avreward@microsoft.com, where tips can be shared.


What are managers/leaders?

toilet

Figure 1 – Toilet, shamelessly stolen from Tame the bear

Okay, so why are we looking at a picture of a toilet? Well, it is quite simple.

Think about your organisation.

How cost effective are toilets in your organisation?

The answer is – Extremely cost effective! Yes, there is legislations that ensures your employer provides such bathroom facilities, but imagine your office/building without toilets. You’d need to go home every few hours, or walk to a public facility… this certainly wont help productivity!

Toilets provide a valued service, although most of us, apart from those in the facilities management trade even think about it!

Turning our attentions back to Managers…

How cost effective are managers in your organisation?

It is not something you can easily measure as they don’t necessarily produce any tangible products. Do managers provide a service? Yes… they provide a service to their team.

It is important to realise that, the members of a team may appear on an organisational chart to work for the manager, however, it is more realistic to suggest that the manager works for the team.

The other important axis to management – Leadership.

Leadership is a skill that excellent managers possess. Leadership is not about counting beans, measuring performance and chairing meetings.

Leadership is about:

  • communication of a shared goal or vision to the team
  • motivating the team
  • ensuring the team has the resources to achieve it’s goal

Just a little taster of what I’ve been learning over the last few weeks.

SpittingCAML




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