Track A Stolen Laptop Using Open Source

You might not realize it, but losing a laptop is a very common problem. In fact, according to a story in July of this year, a study by the Ponemon Institute shows that up to 12,000 laptops are lost at airport security checkpoints EVERY WEEK. How do you say “holy S**tballs” in geek?

But, there are solutions and, among them, is a free, open source option.

Picture 2 The solution is Adeona and I had the opportunity to watch a short presentation by these guys at Gnomedex only a short while ago. The project is coming out of the University of Washington. Here is how it is described:

Adeona is the first Open Source system for tracking the location of your lost or stolen laptop that does not rely on a proprietary, central service. This means that you can install Adeona on your laptop and go — there’s no need to rely on a single third party. What’s more, Adeona addresses a critical privacy goal different from existing commercial offerings. It is privacy-preserving. This means that no one besides the owner (or an agent of the owner’s choosing) can use Adeona to track a laptop. Unlike other systems, users of Adeona can rest assured that no one can abuse the system in order to track where they use their laptop.

How it works is pretty simple. You download the free client software to your laptop and install it. That client software will then begin sending encrypted information to servers on the Internet on the geographic location of your laptop. If the laptop every goes missing, you as the owner can log in with your username and password and view the information on where your laptop is. The software is free and it is using the free storage service OpenDHT to store the data.

As an added benefit, if you’re using a Mac, the software will use isightcapture to take a quick snapshot using the built-in Isight webcam and therefore send a picture of whoever is using your MacBook.

You might be wondering how it knows where the laptop is. The answer is: it doesn’t. Your laptop most likely does not have any built in GPS technology. Instead, the system logs the IP addresses used to connect to the Internet as well as any data on nearby routers. And as most geeks know, it isn’t usually hard to geo-locate an IP address. At the very least, you can report the information to authorities and track down the thief.

This is free and open source and, for that reason, lacks many of the features of the commercial services such as Lojack for Laptops or PC PhoneHome. But, the creators of Adeona were trying to solve the privacy problem. The concern with commercial services is that they could be used to track even the legitimate owner of the laptop. The overriding goal of Adeona was to make sure only the actual owner of the laptop could see the data.

Since Adeona is open source, we’re likely to see new features built on top of it. Anyone can take the source code and improve upon it. Perhaps we might even see Adeona adapted to the Iphone. That would make a very cool app seeing as the Iphone 3G has integrated GPS technology. The downloads page of the Adeona site says they are exploring the possibility of Iphone and Windows Mobile versions.

Adeona is available for Windows, Mac and Linux and is free to try.

How-To: Repair A Laptop LCD Monitor

[PREMIUM]- So you’ve got a laptop, really love it and don’t want to let it go. It’s still fairly new but just out of warranty and the LCD monitor on the monitor is busted. You’ve either got a flickering screen, solid-colored horizontal or vertical lines or “blocks” of colors, however when you output the laptop to a regular monitor you know the computer is still working.

Can you fix this yourself?


You can order a replacement monitor and do the work yourself by ordering just the screen (and not the bezel), however this is a very tricky job. This tutorial will instruct you how to replace one of these screens properly. We’ve even got pictures to help you see what we’re doing.

10 ‘Awesome’ iPhone Applications

While I am not an iPhone user (I am still happy with my ancient flip phone), I am sure many of our readers here are. So for you iPhone users, I thought I would pass along an article on Wired you might want to take a look at: 10 Most Awesome iPhone Apps of 2008.

The article outlines different applications, most are free with the rest $3 and under. Most of the outlined items are applications, but a few games made the list. Another thing to note as well are the user comments which point to even more applications you may want to give a look.

Again, I’m not an iPhone user so I cannot personally comment on any of these applications, but considering most are free, what do you have to lose?

Meebo Notifier Breaks Out Of The Browser, Sort Of

Web-based instant messaging is something some people swear by while others (like me) still prefer the client.

Meebo, one of the better multi-service web-based IMs, now has a Windows app called Meebo Notifier that can run the service without having the browser running, sort of.

I say "sort of" because while it is a legitimate app that takes care of authentication, gives toaster pop-ups for new instant messages and so on, it still has to launch the browser when you want to actually chat. Even though that’s true, some of you out there may like this.

Meebo Notifier is small and installs itself as a small taskbar icon. It’s distinctive because it’s orange (but still looks decent, not to worry). When you have messages waiting/incoming or other events, the icon changes to an orange ring and flashes politely for a few seconds (i.e. slowly), then stays as the O until you clear notifications or double-click the icon to see the messages.

One of the best part is that you don’t have to use a Meebo account.

Here’s the login screen for the app:


I can choose just one IM service if I want instead of the Meebo account (which launches all IM accounts you have configured). In fact you don’t even need a Meebo account to try it - and that’s cool.

When logged in successfully you get a toaster pop-up:


Note the orange Meebo icon.


Above, when you get a message, the icon turns into an orange ring and a pop-up appears for a few seconds (or until you close it).


Above, right-clicking the icon gives you the option to clear notifications, set preferences, exit and so on.


Above, when you close the browser, you get this notice. Meebo is still logged in even with the browser closed.

Said honestly this is really good.

My biggest complaint? No sound options. It would be really nice if there were a small WAV you could choose when notifications come in. Other than that it’s tough to complain about.

Try it out, you may like it.

Open Source Source Code Editor

You have probably seen several tips in the past relating to the excellent Notepad replacement Notepad++, however today I am going to write about another open source text editor which is geared towards editing source code: Scintilla.

As well as features found in standard text editing components, Scintilla includes features especially useful when editing and debugging source code. These include support for syntax styling, error indicators, code completion and call tips. The selection margin can contain markers like those used in debuggers to indicate breakpoints and the current line. Styling choices are more open than with many editors, allowing the use of proportional fonts, bold and italics, multiple foreground and background colours and multiple fonts.

Scintilla runs on Windows, Linux and Mac so everyone can run it. As with most developer tools, it all comes down to personal preference as the features are usually pretty standard across the board. The more choices you have, the better right?

Tool To Download Videos From Many Websites

You have probably seen many articles and tips on this site about downloading videos from YouTube, however if you want to download from other sites a tool you need to check out is xVideoServiceThief.

This open source tool allows you to download from (at the time of writing) 55 popular websites which use embedded videos. Additionally, xVideoServiceThief boasts the following features:

* Convert the downloaded videos to Mpeg, DivX, etc.
* Simultaneous downloads!: Download more than one video at same time
* Automatic Updates! keep the xVideoServiceThief updated automatically (to add/update support for new sites)

If you like to keep videos on your hard drive, this tool is ideal because you don’t have to worry about going into your browser cache and renaming files, etc, etc. It is straightforward and completely free.

Showing Long Dates In The Taskbar [Windows 7]

(Note before starting: This should also for work Windows Vista the exact same way.)

The way in which Windows 7 shows the date and time in the taskbar is like this:


However you can make it look like this:


Or this:


Or any number of other ways by modifying the short date format in Calendar settings.

To access this setting, you can get to it in several different ways.

Method 1 (the very long way):

  1. Control Panel
  2. System and Security
  3. Clock, Language and Region
  4. Date and Time
  5. Change Date and Time (link)
  6. Change Date and Time (button)
  7. Change calendar settings

Method 2 (the much shorter way):

  1. Right-click the clock in the taskbar.
  2. Adjust date/time
  3. Change date and time (button)
  4. Change calendar settings

The Windows 7 date display in the taskbar does follow the short date format when adjusting the calendar settings.


Once you customize the short date, click Apply, then look to the taskbar date display to see if it’s to your liking. If not, change it around until you find something that suits you and click Apply again. When you find what you like, click OK.

I can’t tell you how happy I am that the date displays in whatever way I wish in Windows 7 without having to "raise" the taskbar just to see it.

Final notes:

If you choose to specifically use small icons in the bar, the taskbar will only show the time like XP did when "one tier" high.

If you mess up the way the time/date is displayed for whatever reason, note the Reset button in the screen shot above. This will restore the default appearance if you need to start over again.

Showing Long Dates In The Taskbar [Windows 7]

(Note before starting: This should also for work Windows Vista the exact same way.)

The way in which Windows 7 shows the date and time in the taskbar is like this:


However you can make it look like this:


Or this:


Or any number of other ways by modifying the short date format in Calendar settings.

To access this setting, you can get to it in several different ways.

Method 1 (the very long way):

  1. Control Panel
  2. System and Security
  3. Clock, Language and Region
  4. Date and Time
  5. Change Date and Time (link)
  6. Change Date and Time (button)
  7. Change calendar settings

Method 2 (the much shorter way):

  1. Right-click the clock in the taskbar.
  2. Adjust date/time
  3. Change date and time (button)
  4. Change calendar settings

The Windows 7 date display in the taskbar does follow the short date format when adjusting the calendar settings.


Once you customize the short date, click Apply, then look to the taskbar date display to see if it’s to your liking. If not, change it around until you find something that suits you and click Apply again. When you find what you like, click OK.

I can’t tell you how happy I am that the date displays in whatever way I wish in Windows 7 without having to "raise" the taskbar just to see it.

Final notes:

If you choose to specifically use small icons in the bar, the taskbar will only show the time like XP did when "one tier" high.

If you mess up the way the time/date is displayed for whatever reason, note the Reset button in the screen shot above. This will restore the default appearance if you need to start over again.

Automatically Copy Highlighted Text In Firefox

If you do a lot of copy-pasting from Firefox, an add-on you simply must have is AutoCopy:

Select text and it’s automatically copied to the clipboard. Like Linux or mIRC.

Simple enough. Additionally, if you only want to get the plain text instead of the formatted text, this extension works with the Copy Plain Text extension to accomplish this.

This is an awesome combination which should be able to handle just about all your copy-paste needs… for text

Web Designer’s Corner: Why IE 6 Still Matters

Ah yes, Internet Explorer 6. It has more holes than Swiss cheese, is exploited easily and is slow as molasses. It doesn’t even do tabs.

You might be thinking, "What moron would still use IE 6 when you could use 7 or 8?"

Corporations would, that’s who.

Windows 2000 is still used widely in the enterprise environment. And as anyone who uses 2000 knows, it won’t support any IE version higher than 6.

Additionally, the majority of enterprise environments absolutely will not allow the installation of any other browser, such as Firefox or Opera.

According to an article published on Lifehacker, a whopping 60% of companies still have the default browser as IE 6.

Concerning your web site or blog, if you want to ensure the widest possible audience, it should work in IE 6.

"But I don’t have IE 6 to test with", you say. Not a problem. There are ways around that.

Workaround 1: Install a virtual environment of Windows XP or 2000.

Download VirtualBox, grab your copy of XP or 2000 and install it, and you’ll get IE 6.

Workaround 2: BrowserCam

This is a web designer’s best friend for testing compatibility of your web site. It is a paid service but there is a free trial so you can see if it’s your thing or not. This service tests web sites in Windows/Mac/Linux using a plethora of different native-environment browsers from you to choose from. I have used this service before and it works great.

Workaround 3: Internet Explorer Application Compatibility VPC Image

"VPC" is "Virtual PC". Microsoft does understand that designers need to test things in previous editions of IE and has VHD (Virtual Hard Disk) images ready to download for that purpose.

This is essentially the same as creating your own virtual machine, but with Microsoft’s available offerings they’ve done all the work for you. All you have to do is download, install and go.

Remotely Shut Down Your PC

Windows XP has a feature that allows users remotely control their systems. To enable Remote Desktop, click Start, and then click Control Panel. If you’re using Classic View, click System. In Category View, click Performance And Maintenance, and then click System. Click the Remote tab and then click the check box in the Remote Desktop area of the dialog box. An information box appears and states that you must have the computer
password protected, and that the proper port must be open if you’re using Internet connection sharing or a personal firewall.

You can shutdown or restart your computer from a remote location by entering commands. First, click Start, and then click All Programs. Click Accessories, and then click Command Prompt. To restart your computer, type shutdown –r and press ENTER. To shutdown your computer, type shutdown –s and press ENTER. If you type shutdown and press ENTER, you will get other options.

A “Safer” Way To Shutdown Windows

Have you ever gone to shutdown your Windows machine (via Start > Shutdown) and once the process starts you remember there was one quick thing you needed to do? If so this is a hassle as you now have to turn the computer back on again to take care of it.

Instead of the usual procedure, instead try this batch file instead:

shutdown /s /t 60

When run, this will pop up a message box with a countdown to the system shutting down. This gives you time to make any last second adjustments, or you can cancel the shutdown process with another batch command:

shutdown /a

I keep 2 batch files on my desktop, “Shut down.bat” and “Cancel Shut down.bat” which run these commands and I don’t even bother with the standard Windows interface. Additionally, you can have the computer restart instead of shutdown by replacing “/s” with “/r” and you can adjust the countdown by changing 60 up to 600.

Fix Windows 98 Shutdown Problem

Some users of Windows 98 have had problems with their PCs hanging up at “Windows is Shutting Down…”, whereas it is supposed to move onto shut itself down. There are usually two causes for this. One is that there is a program running which Windows cannot shut down. Usually, it is a program which is running in your System Tray. In order to determine which one it is, just shut down manually one program each time you shut the PC down, making note of the one you exited. When Windows successfully shuts down, you can be pretty sure the system tray program you shut down just prior to thart is the culprit. The other possibility is that you need to update your copy of Windows. Use the Windows Update service and download the latest patches. The first edition of Windows 98 had an issue with its power management that kept it from shutting down properly. An update could fix it.

Windows 7 64-bit, Fallout 3, and…

Windows 7 can do 64-bit gaming and do it quite well. But can it do it super-large style? Watch and find out.

Quick Look: Zimbra Desktop

The folks at Yahoo recently released a new email client which works on Windows, Mac or Linux. It is called Zimbra Desktop.

Yahoo continues to hold sizable market share when it comes to online email accounts. Yahoo bought Zimbra in 2007. It was a good union because you could see Zimbra entering into the foray with Yahoo Mail and Yahoo Calendar to create a really nice desktop solution based on open source software.

The new public beta of Zimbra desktop is based on Mozilla Prism. Prism is similar to Google Gears, a solution which allows web apps to run in offline environments. So, Zimbra Desktop looks like a web application except that it is running on your system locally. Of course, the fact that all of that software is being moved to your computers adds up to a relatively sizable download. I installed the Mac OS X version and it was just over 40 MB in size. Installed, we’re looking at around 170 MB.

Oddly, when I installed the Mac version, it wanted to install itself to a folder other than the usual Applications folder. I had to specifically tell it to install in a sub-folder off of Applications. I do not know how it works with the Windows client as I did not install that one.

Once installed, I set up an email account. You are not forced into using Yahoo mail. You can use any account you wish. I set it up using my Gmail account. Setting up the account made it fairly obvious that this works like a web app. The screens looked more like a web app than a completely native application.

Picture 5

Setup of my Gmail account automatically went in using IMAP access. Interestingly, Yahoo has also jumped on board with IMAP access, so Yahoo users can now use their email inside of Zimbra using IMAP.

The client also supports Contacts, Calendar, Tasks, Documents, Briefcase and options. While you can do all that in the client, there does not appear to be a seamless sync experience between the client and the Internet. There was no sync capabilities, for instance, with my Google
Calendar and reports are that there isn’t such a sync with Yahoo’s own cloud as well.

All in all, this is a cool little mail client. But, is it an Outlook or Thunderbird killer? No. If you’re going to use web-based email, it is better to keep it web-based. Zimbra Desktop looks to be a polished, offline version of Yahoo Mail.

The email client is free, so try it and remove it if you don’t like it. And credit goes to Yahoo for beating Google to the punch - they are the first to provide offline support for their online email service.

My Mac Will Kill Your PC. Twice.

My friend, Kyle Graham, did a video where he openly declared that his PC will kill my Mac. He compared his experience with his expensive Macbook to his experience with his $400 PC.

Now, I can’t let this ballsy maneuver go without a response, can I? So, I recorded a video response.

Oh, and sorry for the weirdism happening at the beginning of the video. I’m working on it.

Let me dissect Kyle’s points here:

1. Airport card died. Sorry about that, man. All I can say is that I have 3 Macs and have had literally no problems with any of them. I think you might have a defective Mac.
2. Mac is super expensive. Yep, you’re paying for the fruit. However, they are powerful machines that last a long time.
3. Mac users are like a cult. Cute stereotype, but most Mac users aren’t like that.
4. Everything has to come through Apple. Not true. I don’t buy anything except the computer from Apple. Everything else comes from third-party vendors. There is nothing about my Mac that I feel I can’t do because of Apple.
5. Expensive cable for hooking up your monitor. What? I had a cable come with my Mac and I can plug any monitor into my Macs. I didn’t have to spend any money on weird cables. Oh, and yes, the Apple monitors are ridiculously overpriced.
6. Apple won’t allow you to do everything with your computer. Again, what? Find me ONE thing that I cannot pull off with my Macs. This claim might be true with the Iphone, but not the Mac. You can do anything you want with it.

All in all, Kyle has some good points. Yes, Apple is pricey. It gives the PC guys reason to rip on Apple.

Alright, PC Mech’ers. Rip me up. Go!

JDBGMGR.EXE Hoax and How to Recover the file

What is the JDBGMGR.EXE Hoax?
This email hoax urges users to delete this necessary file from their computer. It may be preceded with the dire sounding "National Virus Alert". It may also make reference to a Teddy Bear icon, which is the standard icon for that file. The file is actually the Microsoft Debugger Registrar for Java, and should not be deleted.

The email is similar to the following one:

Hi, everybody:
I just received a message today from one of my friends in my Address Book. Their Address Book had been infected by a virus and it was passed on to my computer. My Address Book, in turn, has been infected. The virus is called jdbgmgr.exe and it propagates automatically through Messenger and through the address book. The virus is not detected by McAfee or Norton and it stays dormant for 14 days before wipe out the whole system. It can be deleted before it erase your computer files. To delete it, you just have to do the following:

1) Go to Start, click on "Find"
2) At "files or folders" write the name jdbgmgr.exe
3) Be sure to search drive "C"
4) Click on "find now"
5) If you find the virus (the icon is a little bear with the name jdbgmgr.exe) DO NOT OPEN IT FOR ANY REASON
6) Right click on it and delete the file (it will go to the recycle bin)
7) Go to the recycle bin and delete the file definitivelly or empty the recycle bin.

How to Repair the file if I deleted it?

Unless you are a Java developer
, the absence of the file should not create any problems, however if do encounter problems with Java applications, you'll need to reinstall it. Unfortunately because of a lawsuit between Microsoft and Sun, the Microsoft Virtual Machine is no longer available for download. It was available for a short time in the Windows XP Service
Pack 1, however in February 2003 Microsoft released Windows XP Service Pack 1A, which does not include the Microsoft VM. Regardless of the Windows version you are running, you can download the Sun Java Virtual Machine to regain functionality.

You can also the Microsoft Knowledge Base article on how to recover this file.

Visit Symantec's page for more information on the jdbgmgr.exe hoax.


Symantec Security Response uncovers hoaxes on a regular basis. These hoaxes usually arrive in the form of an email. Please disregard the hoax emails - they contain bogus warnings usually intent only on frightening or misleading users. The best course of action is to merely delete these hoax emails. Please refer to this page whenever you receive what appears to be a bogus message regarding a new virus, or promotion that sounds too good to be true.

"Hello Dear" Hoax09/04/2000
$800 from Microsoft Hoax
AIDS Virus Hoax
Antichrist Hoax07/17/2001
AOL and Intel Hoax
AOL RIOT 2 Virus Hoax
AOL Year 2000 Update Hoax12/18/1999
AOL4Free Virus Hoax
Awareness Virus Hoax
Baby New Year Virus Hoax
Badtimes Hoax
Be Spooked Hoax
BestBuy Order Fraud Alert Hoax06/19/2003
Bicho7 Hoax10/23/2001
Big Brother Hoax10/12/2000
Blue Mountain Virus Hoax12/19/2000
Blueballs Are Underrated Virus Hoax07/30/1999
California IBM Hoax
CellSaver Virus Hoax08/26/1999
Coke.exe hoax
Dana virus hoax12/03/2001
Dear Friends Hoax
Desi1love Hoax
Despite Virus Hoax10/15/1999
Discount Virus Hoax08/25/2000
Economic Slow Down Hoax
Ericsson Free Phone Hoax08/10/2001
FatCat Virus Hoax
February 1 Hoax01/25/2002
Flower for You Hoax08/01/2000
Forward Hoax
FREE M & M's Hoax11/02/1999
Free Pizza Virus Hoax10/15/1999
FROGAPULT, ELFBOWL, Y2KGAME Virus Hoax12/08/1999
Gamma2.exe Hoax06/06/2001
GAP Email Tracking Hoax06/21/1999
Gift from Microsoft Hoax12/28/1999
Goldbear Virus Hoax11/08/2002
Google Trojan Hoax07/31/2003
Got You Hoax05/27/2003
Guts to Say Jesus Hoax05/15/1999
Hacky Birthday Virus Hoax
Hairy Palms Virus Hoax
Halloween Virus Hoax
Happy New Year Virus Hoax
Help Poor Dog Virus Hoax
Hitler Virus Hoax
How to Give a Cat a Colonic Hoax
Iraq War Hoax04/04/2003
Irish Virus hoax09/08/2000
Jan1st20.exe Virus Hoax
Jdbgmgr.exe file hoax04/12/2002
John Kennedy Jr Trojan Hoax12/20/1999
Kleneu66 Hoax09/19/2003
Launch Nuclear Strike Now Hoax01/10/2002
Life is Beautiful Hoax01/15/2002
Londhouse Virus Hoax
Lotus Notes Worm Hoax09/01/2000
Lump of Coal Virus Hoax09/07/1999
Matrix Virus Hoax
Mobile Phone Virus Hoax05/18/1999
MSN Messenger add a contact Hoax01/19/2003
NASTYFRIEND99 Virus Hoax05/10/1999
Norman Virus Hoax
Olympic Torch Hoax02/21/2006
Osama vs Bush Hoax
Pandemic Computer Virus Hoax
Perrin.exe Virus Hoax
Phantom Menace Hoax
Pluperfect Virus Hoax
Postal Service Email Charge Hoax01/09/2002
Sandman hoax
SARC Virus Test Hoax
Scoutshacker Hoax
South Park News Letter Hoax
Symantec ASDL Virus Hoax06/19/2001
T-Virus Hoax08/19/2004
The New Ice Age Hoax02/13/2001
Tuxissa Virus Hoax04/22/2000
Upgrade Internet 2 Hoax10/03/2000
Very Cool Virus Hoax
Virtual Card Virus Hoax
W2sync virus hoax
W32-PrPlCrcl-G Virus Hoax04/01/2002
W32.MFG.Tassos@mm Hoax06/04/2003
W32.XPExp.Worm Hoax01/31/2003
Wait 48 hours hoax11/01/2001
Watching hoax09/12/2000
WAZ UP Hoax01/11/2001
Windows will Fail on Jan 1 Hoax
Wobbler Hoax
Wooden Horse Hoax
WordScribe Virus Hoax01/16/2001
Work Virus Hoax
World Domination Hoax
WTC Survivor Hoax10/29/2001
Y2K7 Virus Hoax
YIM Hard drive killer Hoax10/27/2005
Your Screen Name Hoax
ZZ331 Virus Hoax 08/31/1999

How Likely Are You For Wi-Fi Theft?

Wi-fi theft, as in the act of stealing someone’s internet connectivity by breaking into a wireless network, has been around ever since we first started using wireless routers.

Before covering the topic of how likely you are for wi-fi theft, I’ll first say that wi-fi security has never been that good. If one is desperate enough to steal your signal, there’s always a way. After all, anything that is transmitted can be intercepted. And as far as cracking the password is concerned, it truly is not that difficult given the right tools.

The best way to protect yourself from wi-fi theft is to:

  1. Know your wireless router’s admin program thoroughly.
  2. Take steps to be less of a target.

Know your wireless router’s admin program thoroughly

Login to your admin program via the web browser for your router and go thru every setting so you get familiarized with what you can do in there. Then follow the steps below.

Remember that for every wireless router manufactured there is a downloadable PDF manual for it (as far as I know) if you lost your printed copy. Perform a Google search for your make/model of router with the word "manual" in the search term and you should be able to locate the PDF version easily.

Taking steps to be less of a target

Use WPA2 if available with a long password

The WPA2 access password can be up to 63 characters long. If you use a long password with mixed case letters, numbers, spaces and symbols, it will be very difficult to "brute force" the password out of it.

Limit connectivity to specific MAC address(es)

This is usually labeled as MAC Address Filtering within the admin program. Every modern network card has a MAC (Media Access Control) address. If you limit allowed clients to specific MAC addresses, this greatly decreases the chance of wi-fi theft.

Most wireless router admin programs allow you to directly copy the MAC address from the connected PC into the allowed client list, so there’s usually no copy/paste involved.

Note: If you use virtual PCs, they have virtual MAC addresses that the router considers real. If setting up MAC address filtering, include your virtual machines as well.

Additional note: MAC addresses can be spoofed. But someone would have to specifically know one of the allowed MAC addresses in your wi-fi network and apply it to their computer in order to break in.

Limit number of connections

If you have three computers in your house and only allow for three assigned IP addresses via the router, the only way another system can get in there is to kick one off the network first.

Once again, be mindful of virtual PCs if you use them, because they use literal IPs (if network enabled); each counts as a separate unique network connection as far as the router is concerned. If you have three real PCs and two virtual ones that are network enabled, you will need to have your router be able to assign 5 IP addresses.

Do not allow remote administration

All wireless routers to the best of my knowledge come with this feature disabled by default, so you shouldn’t have to worry about it.

Other questions answered

Does IP Lease Time affect security at all?

No. My only suggestion would have the Lease Time not set to "forever", especially if you have people in and out of your house using the wi-fi routinely. This is done strictly for convenience’s sake. Some of you out there may prefer to have IPs cleared from the DHCP list, especially for temporary assignments (such as a friend visiting and using his or her wi-fi enabled laptop).

Does disabling the broadcasting of the SSID help?

It does offer a little bit of extra security, but MAC address filtering is much more effective.

Will periodically changing my SSID deter break-ins to my wireless network?

Not really, because all that has to be done is a re-scan of the available networks.

I do, however, suggest a non-generic name to make you less attractive as a target. For example, many people have Linksys routers simply labeled as "linksys". This literally announces, "I never changed this setting in my router", and that’s not good.

At least with a custom name, whoever is trying to break into a wi-fi network will target the "easy looking" ones first, and that includes SSID names like "linksys", "belkin" and the like.

Final notes

Taking action to be less of a target is your best defense against a wi-fi break-in.

Of course, the best defense is simply shutting the router off when not in use. This may be inconvenient, but nobody can break into your network via wireless if the router is off.

Computer Virus Hoaxes and Myths

Is It A Virus or a Hoax?

It seems as if the minute a new person logs on to the Internet they get a flood of email warning of dire consequences if they open an email with a certain subject line. There are viruses that can be transmitted via email, however a lot of these so-called viruses are imaginary. They are myths, let's face it is it really believable that Disney would giveaway trips by simply responding to an email, or Bill Gates sending money to people who kept an email chain letter moving through cyberspace? There are many of these email hoaxes floating around the Internet at any given time.

Hoaxes become viruses simply by individuals forwarding the hoax across the Internet to other unsuspecting individuals, these individuals read the warning and forward it on to still more people. Thus the "virus" spreads throughout the Internet.

The next time you receive an email warning of potential hazard to your computer if you open an email. Go check out the following webpages in particular to see if there is any truth to the message. An email may in fact contain a virus, but please check out the following pages to verify its authenticity before forwarding it on to someone.

The first place to visit to determine if something is a hoax or not is the

U.S. Department of Energy's Computer Incident Advisory Capability

Hoaxes described on this page: PKZ300, Irina, Good Times, Good Times Spoof, Deeyenda, Ghost PENPAL GREETINGS!, Make Money Fast, NaughtyRobot, AOL4FREE, Join the Crew, Death Ray, AOL V4.0 Cookie, A.I.D.S. Hoax, Internet Cleanup Day, Bill Gates Hoax, WIN A HOLIDAY, AOL Riot June 1, 1998, E-mail or get a Virus, Bud Frogs Screen Saver, Disney Giveaway Hoax.

Another place to visit is

Computer Virus Myths Homepage

If the email or file is listed on one of these two pages, it's probably a myth. If it is, please don't forward it to anyone. Internet chain letters just clog the Internet, slowing it down for everyone.

What is the Config.MSI Folder and Can I Delete it?

I had a problem the other day reinstalling Quickbooks for a customer. The program would not open and when I tried to reinstall it and an error appeared about not being able to overwrite some files in the CONFIG.MSI folder. Let me explain what the CONFIG.MSI folder is, where its located, and if you can remove it safely.

First of all, the CONFIG.MSI folder is a hidden folder on the root drive of Windows, usually Drive C. The folder is used by the Windows Installer process during an installation of software. It saves files with the extension of .RBS and .RBF. These are Rollback Script Files used by the installer to uninstall recent changes if an install fails somewhere along the way. The rollback script file (.rbs) is always stored in the Config.msi folder on the disk where the operating system is installed. The .rbf files are stored in the Config.msi folder located on the disk where the program that is being backed up currently resides. These can be two different drives.

Can the CONFIG.MSI folder and its files be deleted safely?

Essentially the CONFIG.MSI folder contains backups of files that are being installed or updated during a program installation. Upon a successful completion, this folder and files are deleted automatically. However, sometimes the installer program fails to remove these files. In this case, you may safely delete the CONFIG.MSI folder and files from your hard drive. Follow the steps below to access and remove the CONFIG.MSI folder.

Reboot the computer and try to download Windows Updates, if they still fail to install, continue with the next step.

Show Hidden Files and Folders

  1. Open My Computer
  2. Click on Tools, Folder Options
  3. Click on the View tab
  4. Under the Hidden Files and Folders section, select "Show Hidden Files and Folders"
  5. Click Ok

Find CONFIG.MSI folder Using My Computer

  1. Open My Computer
  2. Double-click on Drive C (or whatever drive Windows is installed on)
  3. Look for the MSCONFIG.MSI folder (it should be a faded folder since its hidden)
  4. Right-click on the MSCONFIG.MSI folder and choose Delete
  5. Click Yes to confirm deletion of the folder and files
  6. Close the My Computer window

Gmail mobile app hits 2.0; Available for J2ME and BlackBerry phones

Yesterday Google (NSDQ: GOOG) released a new version of its GMail app for J2ME-enabled and BlackBerry (NSDQ: RIMM) phones. The main goal was to make the application faster and more reliable, hence the code has been rearchitected to push all the processing to the background. In addition, the client-side caching scheme has been improved and “every bottleneck piece of code” optimized.

So what’s the new in the version 2.0, you ask?

* It’s faster - overall you should find the application faster, which includes smoother scrolling and no freezing.
* Multiple accounts management - now you can manage more than a single GMail acount from a single app.
* Multiple mobile email drafts - meaning you could prepare more emails in no-signal areas (i.e. metro).gmail mobile 2 photo for blog Gmail mobile app hits 2.0; Available for J2ME and BlackBerry phones
* Shortcuts - great for QWERTY phone owners, which for instance could hit “z” to undo, “k” to go to a newer conversation, and “j” to go to an older conversation.
* Basic offline support - allows reading of most recent emails even when there is no signal. Additionally, outgoing messages will be saved in the Outbox and sent automatically when you’re back in coverage.

Like GMail? Hop over to from your phone and download Gmail for mobile 2.0 now!

A short demo video of the application follows after the jump.

SlingPlayer Mobile for iPhone

SlingPlayer Mobile for iPhone

SlingPlayer Mobile for iPhone : Sling Account SlingPlayer Mobile for iPhone : Slingbox ID SlingPlayer Mobile for iPhone : Slingboxes
Sling Media's highly anticipated SlingPlayer Mobile for iPhone, announced at CES in January, is finally available for purchase in the iTunes App Store. Like its SlingPlayer Mobile (for Windows Mobile) and SlingPlayer Mobile for BlackBerry counterparts, the iPhone application is priced at $29.99. Just like the other versions, the iPhone version streams live television from a Slingbox directly to your handheld device. One big difference that's sure to disappoint iPhone users, however, is the fact that, at Apple's request, the live television streaming app can only function when used with a WiFi connection. 3G and EDGE data connections aren't supported (as they were in the beta).Apple iPhone

Sling Media's highly anticipated SlingPlayer Mobile for iPhone, announced at CES in January, is finally available for purchase in the iTunes App Store. Like its SlingPlayer Mobile (for Windows Mobile) and SlingPlayer Mobile for BlackBerry counterparts, the iPhone application is priced at $29.99. Just like the other versions, the iPhone version streams live television from a Slingbox directly to your handheld device. One big difference that's sure to disappoint iPhone users, however, is the fact that, at Apple's request, the live television streaming app can only function when used with a WiFi connection. 3G and EDGE data connections aren't supported (as they were in the beta).

SlingPlayer Mobile for iPhone officially supports Sling's current lineup of media streamers, though the app will also connect to "legacy" boxes, including the Classic, AV, and TUNER. Because these older boxes are not officially supported, customers will be on their own should they run into any technical problems getting the app to run with these devices.

The installation process is no different from other iPhone applications—you purchase and download SlingPlayer Mobile directly from the App Store—though the $29.99 price tag rings in significantly higher than most other iPhone apps. When launching the app for the first time, you're prompted to select from a list of associated Slingboxes after entering your Sling Account information. After selecting a Slingbox, the app automatically reconnects to that Slingbox whenever you launch the app.

The app functions in much the same way as the other two versions, though the landscape-only interface has been polished for use on the iPhone. I was able to effortlessly connect to a variety of Slingboxes using an account provided to me by Sling Media. I also connected to my Slingbox PRO without a hitch. Streaming video appears about 20 seconds after logging in, significantly slower than the five seconds required to connect from my computer. Flipping through channels took about five seconds per channel—a significant hindrance for mobile channel surfers.

Navigating through channels without the full PC-based SlingPlayer interface can be a challenge, especially if you haven't managed to memorize your provider's channel lineup, but creating a list of favorites helps to make the experience more manageable. You can select channels by directly entering a channel number into the onscreen keypad, flicking your finger up and down on the screen to navigate channel by channel, or flicking left or right to navigate through your list of mobile favorites.

Standard definition 4:3 content looked best on the iPhone's display, appearing without distortion and filling most of the display. HD content in its native letterbox format was displayed with large black bars on all four sides. The app really ought to be able to do a better job fitting HD video to the screen, taking better advantage of the iPhone's widescreen display. Additionally, the app lacks some basic image-formatting functionality found in other iPhone apps, such as a double tap to maximize a video feed in the YouTube app, for example.

Formatting issues aside, video quality was acceptable—about what you'd expect when streaming content from YouTube, for example. The video framerate was lower than expected on my speedy WiFi connection, however. While the iPhone app lacks the frame rate counter present in earlier Windows Mobile versions, I'd estimate video streaming at 20 fps. Because it filled more of the display, I preferred viewing content from SD sources with the app.

There's certainly room for improvement, considering that the app is limited to WiFi connections, where bandwidth is less of an issue. There are currently no options for manually adjusting image-quality settings, with the exception of changing the aspect ratio. Audio quality was acceptable, but its low bitrate results in mild distortion. An audio-only mode is offered as well, presumably designed for streaming content over EDGE, even though the final version supports only WiFi.

Overall, the application is much snappier than the beta version I tested last month. While the beta version I tested was able to stream video over 3G and EDGE, quality suffered significantly when streaming video over AT&T's network. The stream required constant rebuffering, and the initial connection took far longer than with the current release. My iPhone's battery also depleted significantly faster when streaming video over 3G, so I avoided using the app whenever I was away from a power outlet. Of course, that's exactly when you want to watch portable live streaming television! While it's disappointing that the app only works in WiFi mode, the current more limited version of the app definitely works better than the beta did.

If you've been drooling over the thought of streaming live television on your iPhone since Sling Media announced the app earlier this year, you're in luck—this app certainly delivers, as long as you're in a WiFi coverage area. SlingPlayer Mobile for iPhone still leaves plenty of room for improvement, however, and while $29.99 is the same cost as the other versions of the app for other platforms, it definitely isn't chump change when it comes to iPhone apps.

How to Remove Panda Antivirus

Panda Antivirus and Panda Internet Security are fairly popular products that many people have enjoyed using. A customer brought in a computer the other day and needed help installing the latest version of Panda Internet Security 2009. His computer already had Panda 2008 installed and the installation for the 2009 version was failing everytime he tried to install it.
Each time he tried to install the software, it would bring up the following screen during the installation and the installation would end. The screen told us the installation failed because "traces of previous installations have been detected" on the computer. Leaving no antivirus software installed. No matter how we uninstalled or reinstalled, the same error message appeared time and again.

Any removal through the Add/Remove Programs option in the Control Panel failed, because nothing regarding Panda existed in the Add/Remove listing.

I proceeded to download automatic removal utilities from Panda Software. Listed below are the utilities I tried.

Panda 2006 Removal Utility

Panda 2007 Removal Utility

Panda 2008 Removal Utility

Panda 2009 Removal Utility

Unfortunately, running any of the above automatic removal programs STILL did not solve the problem and I was left with the "traces of a previous installation" error. A windows service called "Panda Process Protection Service" and a driver called "Panda Process Protection Driver" remained in the system and refused to be deleted.

Then I stumbled upon a Panda Security Utility that did the trick. If you are experiencing similar issues, please give this procedure a try.

1) Download the PandaSecurityUtility and save it to your desktop

2) Once the file is downloaded, double-click on it to run. For Windows Vista users, you'll want to right-click on the file and click Run as Administrator so the program has the correct permissions to uninstall the software.

3) When the utility finishes, search the computer for the file C:\Windows\RAVTC.tmp and delete it if it exists.

4) Now reset the Winsock catalog by following these directions:

* Click on Start, Run
* Type CMD and press Enter
* On the black screen, type the following command and press Enter

netsh winsock reset catalog

* Type Exit and press Enter to close the command prompt

5) Restart the computer

6) Install Panda software (this time it should work)
What began as a simple uninstall/reinstall job turned into about 4 hours of trouble, however at last the problem was solved. Hopefully, this information will save you time and headache if you run into the same type of problem.

Internet Explorer 8: Nine Things You Didn't Know You Could Do

Microsoft got many things right with Internet Explorer 8, and one of them was the way it made most of IE8's niftiest features easily accessible. You won't have to explore the menus very deeply to find new features, but we've put together some tips about features that you may not have noticed, and we've added one important tip that Microsoft won't tell you about at all—how to add powerful ad blocking to IE8. Read on for the details.

Caret Browsing
1. Select text with the keyboard
In older versions of IE it was often difficult or impossible to select exactly the text you wanted to copy into an e-mail or a document. When you dragged the mouse to select text, you often selected adjacent paragraphs or columns also, even though you didn't want them. IE8 finally solves this problem by imitating Firefox's "caret browsing" feature, in which you select text by moving the arrow keys. Just press F7, or Page | Caret Browsing, and use the arrow keys or other navigation to find the place in the text where you want to start copying; hold down the Shift key and use the arrows or other navigation keys to extend the selection. Ctrl-C then copies the selected text to the clipboard. It would have been nice if Web browsers used F8 (the "extend selection" key in Microsoft Office) instead of F7 for this feature, but you can't have everything.

2. Go back to the future with Compatibility View
In the bad, not-so-old days before Internet Explorer followed Web standards as closely as it does now, many Web developers designed their sites to display correctly in Internet Explorer, using IE's proprietary layout methods. In IE8, these sites typically display with some elements overlapping others or with similar layout errors. Make those sites appear as their designers intended by using Page | Compatibility View. You can make IE8 always display a site in Compatibility View by adding its address to Page | Compatibility View Settings.

Microsoft maintains a list of sites that need Compatibility View, and IE8 automatically switches to Compatibility View for sites on the list. You can tell if you're visiting one of those sites: Compatibility View will be grayed out on the Page menu. If you don't want IE8 to turn on Compatibility View automatically, go to Page | Compatibility View Settings and clear the check box next to Include updated website lists from Microsoft. The list is updated monthly, and you can find the current list (in Excel format) by searching the Web for "Windows Internet Explorer 8 Compatibility View List." The download page should be near the top of the list of hits.

InPrivate Browsing
3. Hide your tracks with InPrivate Browsing
Confusingly, IE8 uses the InPrivate label for two different features, both accessible from the Safety menu. There's "InPrivate Browsing" and "InPrivate Filtering." InPrivate Browsing lets you surf the Web without storing traces of your visits on your own computer in the form of cookies, history items, or cached pages. Believe it or not, there are uses for this mode that you won't be embarrassed to talk about with your family: For example, you might want to hide your tracks when you shop for birthday presents for a spouse or child who might be curious about your browsing history. When you're browsing privately, a blue "InPrivate" icon appears in the address bar.

InPrivate Filtering
4. Fine-tune privacy with InPrivate Filtering
The other privacy feature is InPrivate Filtering. This prevents Web pages from displaying ads that have also been shown on other sites you've visited, ads that may have tracked your browsing to continue their assault on you. You can use Safety | InPrivate Filtering to turn on this feature for the current page, but you're better off using Safety | InPrivate Filtering Settings and choosing Automatically Block. The same settings dialog lets you set the threshold for the number of sites in your browsing history in which a specific item has appeared; the default is 10, so any item that appears on 10 or more sites gets blocked. I've changed that setting to 3, the lowest available setting, to increase my privacy as much as possible.

5. Add more accelerators
When you select anything on a Web page, IE8's accelerator feature displays a double-arrow icon next to the selection. If you click on this icon IE pops up a list of "accelerators"—tiny bits of code that perform operations on the selected text, such as translating it in Google Translate, displaying a map of a place, or any of dozens of other functions. (You can also access your accelerators by right-clicking anywhere on a page and choosing them from the context menu.) IE8 comes with some Microsoft-centric accelerators by default, but you'll probably want to install third-party versions as replacements or additions.

Find More Accelerators
To add accelerators, use Tools | Manage Add-Ons; click on Accelerators, then Find More Accelerators. From the same Manage Add-Ons dialog you can also right-click on any installed accelerator and disable or remove it. I replaced most of the Microsoft-centric accelerators with Google-based alternatives.

Advanced Filtering
6. Block Ads with InPrivate Filtering and Third-Party Filters
One reason I switched my default browser from IE to Firefox was that I could install an ad-blocking extension. IE8 doesn't support a similar add-on, but with a bit of effort, you can get almost the same level of stress-reducing ad blocking in IE8 that you can get in Firefox—using only IE8's built-in features. It's a three-step process.

First, turn on InPrivate Filtering by using Safety | InPrivate Filtering Settings and select Automatically Block. Click OK.

Next, add a Registry setting that turns on InPrivate Filtering by default so that you don't have to turn it on every time you start up IE8. In Notepad, create a text file with these three lines:

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Safety\PrivacIE]


Save this file to your desktop with a name like "FilterOn.reg"; right-click on it; choose Merge.

Next, search the Web for files named Adblock for or, or search for "ie8 adblock xml list" or similar strings. You are looking for links to downloadable XML files converted from recent filtering lists created for Firefox's AdBlock Plus. Download one or more of these XML files to your desktop—you can use more than one without problems—and look at the files in Notepad to make sure that they're standard text files and not a dangerous executable program (scan them with your antivirus app first, just in case). In IE8, go to Tools | Manage Add-Ons, and click on InPrivate Filtering. Click the Import button, navigate to your downloaded XML file and click Open. IE8 will take a few seconds to process the list. Click Close. Now visit any normally ad-heavy site and enjoy the view of the site with few or no ads.

7. Try out Suggested Sites
IE8's Suggested Sites feature offers links to sites that may interest you, based on your browsing history. When you switch this feature on, using Tools | Suggested Sites, IE8 sends a list of the addresses you visit to Microsoft, and Microsoft sends back a list of suggestions. You view the suggestions by clicking the Favorites toolbar and choosing See Suggested Sites. Personally, I don't like sending my browsing history to Microsoft, and I found in testing that the suggestions tend to be sites I know about already. But if you're exploring some new and unfamiliar subject, it may be worth turning this feature on while you visit sites that cover the subject.

Customizable Toolbar
8. Customize the toolbars
Every experienced Windows user knows the mantra "right-click everywhere." When you right-click in the toolbar or tab bar in IE8, you can find options that make the browser look and work the way you want it, not the way Microsoft thinks you want it. For example, right-click in the Favorites toolbar, choose Customize Title Widths, and switch from the default Long Titles setting to either Short Titles, which displays the first few letters of the name of each link in the Favorites bar, or to Icons Only, which does what it says. Either of these settings packs more items into the Favorites bar than the Long Titles setting.

The traditional top-line Menu Bar and the new Command Bar (the one at the right above the main window) duplicate many of these functions. Right-click in the menu area, and uncheck one of these to see if you can manage without it. Feel free to experiment. If you turn off the Menu Bar, you still access its commands by pressing the traditional keyboard shortcuts that open items on the top-line menu: Alt-F for File, Alt-E for Edit, Alt-V for View—or just Alt to open the Menu bar.

Status Bar
9. Explore the status bar
Tired of drilling down through IE's menu structure to find the feature you need? Try clicking in different places on the status bar at the foot of the window to find quick access to some otherwise hard-to-find controls. You'll have to explore this for yourself, because the various square-shaped regions in the status bar aren't labeled. But you'll find that a click in one region brings up a menu that lets you turn the pop-up blocker on and off, while a click in another region lets you check a suspicious-looking Web site to see if Microsoft has marked it as unsafe. Other regions in the status bar let you access the Zoom feature quickly, or check or change the status of InPrivate Filtering.

Stop Error 0x0000007E After SP3 is installed

I've had a few computers that will not boot correctly after I've installed Windows XP Service Pack 3 on them. The computer finishes the install and then prompts for a reboot. The computer will start to reboot then give a BSOD Stop Error for a second and reboot again. This process will continue unless the computer is started in Safe Mode. In Safe mode the computer boots correctly and everything seems fine.

This problem only appears on some systems after upgrading to SP3. This particular problem on systems that have been prepared with SysPrep. The sysprep image was created on an Intel based computer, and then the sysprep image is deployed on a Non-Intel system such as an AMD processor. In these cases, the registry entry for Intelppm is incorrectly set and causes the computer to go into a continuous reboot after the service pack has installed.
How Can I Solve This Problem?

Follow these steps to resolve this issue with the computer not booting correctly after SP3 is installed.

1) Start your computer in Safe Mode.

2) Click on Start, Run, and type REGEDIT and press Enter. This will open the Registry Editor.

3) Click the pluses(+) next to the following registry keys to navigate to the correct spot.

  • CurrentControlSet
  • Services
  • Intelppm
4) In the right hand column find the entry titled START and double-click on it

5) Change the number to 4 and click Ok

6) Close the Registry Editor

7) Shut down your computer and restart

This time the computer should restart normally and finish the installation of SP3.

Of course, it should be stated that if you are unsure of any of these procedures, please do not complete them and ask for assistance from a local computer tech, family friend, or other knowledgeable person.

Copyright © PcBerg