Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Tweaking XP:: Lesson #2

Okay so yesterday's post pretty much sucked (in my opinion anyways) except for the helpful tips from shawn and englee, - Thanks guys! Lesson #1 wasn't that helpful a tweak but hey! it's only Lesson 1# and we got like 1,000,000,000 more tips to go heh heh.. can't be releasing all the good shit all at once right? and besides, i type what comes to mind so forgive me if it isn't in any particular order or categorised for easy reference, yada yada yada.. and before i start, once again if you're sleeping reading up to here, please go to this site instead. =p

Today's little tip is on performance. Yup. seriously, there's nothing i hate more than a slow PC. Slow everything else is fine by me, but a slow PC?? *ArgggHhhHHhhh* Double-click my computer... zZZZZzzzZZZzzZZzz.. Shut down computer? again.. zzzZZzzzZZZZzzz

And like you all know, out of the box XP pretty much starts every service there is to start whether you like it or not! It's there for a reason no doubt, but seriously, if you're a homeuser how much of the services will you actually be using anyway?

Many know, many don't but XP ships with performance monitor. It constantly monitors various areas of your system to provide statistics which are pretty helpful when troubleshooting but when you're not using it, what does it do? EAT RESOURCES. Anyway, i for one am a stingy poker when it comes to resources. Don't let your system eat what you don't use.

So if you're not planning to use performance monitor, turn it off! and to do that, simply go to:

RUN > CMD

To turn it off, type 'diskperf -N' and hit

To turn it back on again, type 'diskperf -Y' and hit

Another thing you can turn off if you're not using is, indexing service. Index basically is used to speed up searching for files on your system. Of course, index created for all the files on your system contributes to performance degration, since the service works as a background process.

So if you don't give a rat's ass about searching for files.. or if you don't do it that often anyway, then turn it off!

Control Panel > Add/Remove Programs > Windows Components : Uncheck 'Indexing Service'

Does your PC feel faster? No? Then go buy a new one! heh heh kidding.. stay tuned for more tuning tips!
-: Tech Notes :-

PC Booster ain't all that great, as after you install it, you can only use it for like 2 weeks and then you gotta pay. I don't like paying, hence i won't waste time evaluating.. Hence, the search continues.. Cherios. =p

Monday, November 21, 2005

Tweaking XP:: Lesson #1

Ever felt you don't have enough control over your PC? Or rather, not enough control over your Windows EXPEE? Out of the box, your OS pretty much is just an OS; a platform for your to run your applications for your to do your daily crappola's like documents, spreadsheets, image editing, programming, yada yada yada...

Well it's time to change that, cause if you do a quick google, you can actually find a million and one tools on the net to tweak your XP. In fact, gaining more control over your OS will improve performance, step up security and even remove unnecessary applications that come built in with windows, example Windows Messenger.. especially if the PC you're setting up is for your office, and messenger-ing withing the LAN is a big no-no.

Besides that, tweaking your XP is sort of like modifying your wheels. A set of 18" rims here, a HKS inter-cooler there, maybe a 4-2-1 extractor here, a Super SQV there.. haha.. Okay, so tuning your OS is nothing like your car, for a fact it doesn't cost you an arm and leg to perform the former... Anyway not to digress.. Today's lesson in tweaking or rather easier "accessibility" of applications..


Lesson 1#: How to access applications faster

If you guys are falling asleep reading till here, thanks alot guys. Please visit this site instead. Oh, you're still here? gee thanks. :) Moving on..

To make applications accessible at a click of a button, try doing this to see if it helps make your life easier, instead of searching the high heavens on your desktop for an icon.

  1. Create a new folder anywhere on your drive and give it a name, something like crazyfrog or biteme.
  2. Place all the shortcuts you need like your email, Toad, photoshop, AcDSee, etc into the folder.
  3. Right-Click on the windows taskbar and select "toolbars" and "New toolbar".
  4. Point to the folder you created earlier and Voila! Everything you need is in a super-duper customised toolbar! =)

Pretty simple right? To simple to even be worthy of a post? i know people who think the CD-ROM Tray is a cup folder ;0

Next up, We take a look at PC Booster: How to speed up your PC!! That'll probably be in my next post. Right now, I'm late for futsal! Time to kick some ass! *>(

Friday, November 18, 2005

The net features DJ@WORK..

Gone were the days, the only way a guy could listen to music was either through the AM/FM or picking up an 8 track from the music store.. Let's take a look at the advancement of music through technology..


Vinyl --> 8 Track --> Cassette --> CD's --> MP3's --> Online Radio

Is my sequence correct? Did i leave anything out? Geez, i don't know.. but that's not the point. The highlight here is look at the way technology has evolved music. From Plastic Vinyl's and 8 Track, Cassettes, CD's to electronic copies of audio. MP3's.. the very paradigm shift for music lovers accross the globe that turned into a nightmare for every major record label in existence. Music gained a new medium for distribution, but in the most negative way possible. Content controlled music? Parrental Advisory? Bah!! Take a look at this scenario:

Conventional Music Lover --> Drives to record store --> Picks up EMINEM's latest CD --> Goes home and listens with disgust as 99% of the CD is ripped off or cencored (Come on, we're talking about Mr. Controversial here!). --> Total effort spent: 1hr 30mins (drive to the store and back).

New Age Music Lover --> Logs on --> Starts up Limewire --> Search for the latest EMINEM songs and every other album produced by him and about 10 other different artiste --> DOWNLOAD for free --> Burns to CD with ol' reliable Nero --> listens to the CD on his MP3 enabled Car audio on the way to work, while patting himself on the back for a job well done. --> Total effort spent: 1hr 30mins (Sitting in front of his PC).

It has become the consumers world and there's nothing the labels can do about it. So is the pardigm shift bad? Hell NO! In my opinion anyways...... Indie Bands on every continent have literally gained a target audience never before possible. Budding artiste and music enthusiast can share their insights, views, and most of all love for music through the internet hype.. all thanks to technology.

Take a look at this site:




A group of DJ's showcase their talented work on the net. And when i say talented, i mean they are FANTASTIC. And once again, all thanks to technology, you can listen to their tracks while you're busting your ass at work.. Cool huh? Check it out. http://www.djatwork.us/radio.html

Trivia No 1 : DJ Droo plays funky house. IT ROCKS.
Trivia No 2 : DJ Droo was Juice Magazine's DJ Quest 1st runner up. 1000++ (Something like that i think) SMS voters listening to his performance live can't be wrong.

And the list goes on... So check the site out and see for yourself. Better yet, get on their mailing list. Djatwork frequently host events around town. Bet you'll be kicking yourself in the gonads if you miss any of it!

At the rate their going, in a couple of years i'll probably be downloading their tracks along celeb DJ's like Smokin' Jo, Digweed, and Timo Maas over limewire.. By then Droo, you better not be pulling the "copyright" crap on me like what Metallica did to Napster!

** DJ@-Techrawks **

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Securing Windows..

Windows Windows Windows.. 95, 98, mE, NT, 2000, XP, 2003, and upcoming, Vista and Longhorn. Up until Window 2003, did our good ol' MS have this serious flaw with Windows Operating System, especially when it comes to preventing unauthorized access.

Speaking of unauthorized access. If you're on the network and you know your colleagues TCP/IP, a simple \\xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx\c$ at RUN actually gives you access to his PC? So maybe 2000 onwards the OS will probably prompt you for authentication, i.e. a username and Password, but even with that it can be bypassed.

In Every Windows OS, there is an account called "RESTRICTED". Did you know......


C:\> net use \\xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx\ipc$ " " /user:" "


AND the use of a pretty easyly obtainable application called Dumpacl, you can actually hack into a windows PC, and recovering every password and username that exists on the box? Pretty scary huh? An unpatched webserver will most probably fall pray to this since it's published on the WWW with a public IP which is easily accessible by anyone, and everyone.

Can i prevent this?

Yessirreee boys and girls, you can! Maybe you should try doing this to prevent the above mentioned ever happening:

Go to Run > REGEDIT

HKLM/SYSTEM/CurrentControlSet/Control/LSA

Change the parameter : "restrictanonymous" and set the value to 2 (by default, the value should be 0)

Do take note, for Windows 2000/XP the value should be changed to 2, and for Windows NT the value should be changed to 1.

Most important of all, always remember to patch your OS with the latest security updates and at the same time, don't forget to update that darn antivirus and spyware while you're at it!

Monday, November 14, 2005

A tip on security

Many people do it. Some for fun, some to harden their internal security, while many others do it for pure malice. Yessirree humanoids.. hackers. the scums of the internet. And it's not hard with today's ease of access. A quick search on any of your famous search engine unleashes a great wealth of tools one can use to create havock. They've made it so simple to hack, any regular joe can download many of the millions of tools available online to carry out the deed.

Many hackers are just plain "Script Kiddies"; in other words the guys who download free tools like trojans with cool hacker's console.. What they do is drop the lil' bugger in their friend's PC by faking it to look like some sort of flash game and the next thing you know, your CD-ROM drive open and closes by itself. All is good fun, until that picture of you stored in your PC, doing things with a ketchup bottle normal people don't do get's spread across the internet. Do feel like flushing your head down the toilet right about now?

Of course you got the good guys or "White hats" as their called, who master the art of hacking purely to strenghen their network and to educate people on internet / systems security.

Last but not least, the crapazoids of the nation "Black hats" who hack purely to gain beneficial returns to themselves and no one else. These are the people who steal your credit card information and go on a shopping spree online. For those of you who have been victim of such attacks, you probably think, 'yeah so that dude shopped with my credit card and the bank found out, called for verification, and im not going to have to pay for it.. so big deal!!'.. Wrong again bucko! Someone's gotta pay for it, either the merchant or the bank. Its cost to the company baby so it gets absorbed back into their budget one way or another.. Trust me, you'll be paying for it indirectly one way or another.. Like they say, what goes around comes around.

"Yeah Yeah, big deal! hack mah hack my lanciao pc lah.. got nothing of your interest oso what!"



Okie dokie, if that's what you say. Just a word of advise. Many hackers don't hack you to get information about your birthday party and dog's next manicure appointment. They do it to make you a "zombie", typically to use YOUR PC to ram a target. A good example, Distributed D.O.S. Attack. (Denial of Service). For all you know, the master hacker is using your PC (and probably a million other zombies machine) to ram the webserver of a prominent company in an effort to bring their server to a standstill. Now the last thing you need is the authorities knocking on your door and holding you liable for a crime you didn't commit!! Especially if you have a static public IP registered to your name, or your company.

The lesson of the day?

Today, just one lesson to get you started on the road to hardening your security; and probably the most basic of all.. Always change your passwords! Especially the darn default streamyx password and your router password! An example,

If you're using Streamyx and you got a ZXADSL 831 modem router from telekom, you can simply access the router configuration by keying in http://192.168.1.1 at your browser and logging in with the default login credentials:

username : ADSL
password : expert03

For a blackhat on the net, obtaining your public IP isn't that difficult. In other words i can access your router and change some configuration and the next thing you know, your service is down.

OR.

Blackhat gets your Streamyx user login credentials and register for TM Hotspot. You pay the bills while the hacker surfs full of glee at starbucks.

OR.

Blackhat accesses your streamyx web based mail and sends liable crap to people, in anyway you're in trouble if the intent is malice. Anyway, this is to name you a few crap that can cause you hellava lot of unnecessary trouble.

So always remember:
  1. If you got a broadband router, always change your default password.
  2. Try rebooting it a couple of times, update some configurations if you have too and then try logging in again. Some routers have been known to reset their logon credentials to default after configurations have been made. Patches or fixes can be obtained from the router vendor, so don't forget to patch it.

Anyway, maybe youre not able to rid the world of hackers, but at least you played your part in getting rid of the cyberpunks and script kiddie scums. There's only so much they can do before they give up, so play your part and happy surfing!

*** A Tech Talks community Service ***

Sunday, November 13, 2005

HDD Life Pro.. It's time to let your hard disk talk!

For the last couple of weeks, i've been doing nothing but format, reformat, and reformat PC's Laptops and servers. Ok the server part was work related.. Yeah, a freakin' IBM x366 baby! that slim piece of equipment really kicks ass! But i had a couple of other personal equipment to tend too, both encountering the same blasted problem. OS CORRUPTION.

That basically drives any techi up the wall. Not because reinstalling is difficult, what with today's OS wizards.. anyone can reinstall an OS. The problem that get's your panties in a bunch is wondering; did the harddisk developed bad sectors? or is it just purely a system file crash, to name a few of the many errors a distressed PC can play on you. Yeah so you run the wizard... installation goes well, your OS is up... you install all your other applications... your freewares.. your thisware.. thatware.. and on the third restart, you're back to square one. "But i formatted my PC"!! "But i ran diagnostics in BIOS to confirm the state of my Hard disk!!" Tough buns baby.. If the hard disk is screwed, it's screwed. Deal with it. And yes, i dealt with it. I came to terms with the fact that my hard disk had lived it's life and has gotten a one way ticket to peripheral's heaven...

I guess it's all wear and tear. But to some extent, we should be able to identify the state of our harddisk to know just about when it's good to go. And so i stumbled upon this neat little tool. HDD LIFE PRO, HELL YEAH!



Like they say, prevention is better than cure. For the full 411, click this URL and check out the blah's blah's blah's of the production boasting itself: http://www.hddlife.com/

I've got it running on my PC right now and i ain't complaining! Anyone out there know of a better tool? do let me know! i'd be happy to evaluate =)

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Go wireless humanoids!

Nothing is worse that wires dangling all over the freakin' place when setting up a small home network. Yeah yeah, back then it's a luxury to have one stinkin' 486 in your home. You were prolly the coolest nerd on the block playing pac man on the PC. But times have changed. In every home, there's at least two to three PC's and laptops all screaming to use the internet. Hell, you can't bloody well be getting in three, four telephone lines to do dial up on the individual machines right? ICS (internet connection sharing) over dial up? please.. you're better off reading a book!

Nowadays, if you ain't got broadband, you're better off not using the net at all. (Ironically enough, our ISP here has probably one of the suckiest service around, but hey! that's still no reason to not go broadband!) Dial up sucks. period.

Getting back to hookin up all your machines on the net. I personnally find no better way to do it then to go wireless, purely for the fact that you dont have to wire your whole damn house with Cat5. As such i recommend to you, the gadget of the day.... (drum rolls)......






NETGEAR WGR614UKX - 54Mbps Wireless Router

I recommend it cause i just got it at a pretty good bargain! RM 160 from Low Yatt Plaza downtown KL. Unless i got ripped off in broad daylight, i would think it pretty much is a good buy, compared to some of the others i saw priced RM205 and above...

Comes Standard build, 1 WAN port, 1 wireless antenna, 4 LAN ports, and of course a power adapter. Okay if it didnt come with a power adapter then the damn this is as good to you as having a spoon for spaghetti. Not to digress..

To configure:

Use the smart CD that comes bundled with it. For all you streamyx users, take note on the type of modem TM installed for you when you subscribed to their service. If your modem has a built in router like the ZTE ZXDSL 831, and the friendly TM installer setup your modem in such a way that all you gotta do is turn on the modem and boot up the PC to get connected to the net, then the Netgear smart CD installer will probably drive you up the wall when it fails to configure.

That's cause the router in the modem itself has DHCP running, and netgear will try to configure DHCP for you. You can't have em' both running. Therefore, you gotta run quick setup on the modem again by going to the your browser and browsing to http://192.168.1.1. Remember to jot down your username and password if you've forgotten it or better, do a print screen on all the configurations so worse case scenario, you can reset every thing, to pre-disaster.

Once you've disabled DHCP and allowing the modem to do automatic dial up to the WAN, create a manual broadband dial up from your Windows XP network connections. Before you get started configuring netgear, make sure you manually connect to the net first. Then, pop in the CD and start the wizard. The rest should be a breeze.

Wireless tips:

  1. You Paid for the service, so don't let your neighbour steal your bandwidth! Always make sure you set WEP encription so that only you gets connected to YOUR wireless network to use YOUR internet. Wireless security is pretty much useless so take precautions. Anyone can sit outside your house and do "war driving" using the infamous tool Network Stumbler to sniff out wireless AP's available.
  2. Create an access list! For all the wireless devices that will be using the network, include your MAC address of your wireless adapter in the list. All you gotta do is go to command prompt and type at C:\ ipconfig /all. Look for the funny string that goes something like 00-0c-1f-45-dd-43 and key it in exactly in your netgear router wireless configuration page. Yeap, also accessible via http://192.168.1.1 by default.
  3. If you're super vigilant, use something like etherpeek or Aeropeek from wildpackets. You can monitor the traffic that comes in and out of your network. You gotta pay for the software. Of course, there's the "free" version from Low Yatt or anywhere on the net but that aside, i state for the record that i am not here to condone piracy. If you're gonna pay for the software then good for you. You benefit from the fabulous support they offer.
  4. Side winding a little, a hacker with linux skills can actually use a good wireless adapter like orinoco and PHLAK your ass. Yup, all they need to do is war drive ya, sniff a million of your packets and the next thing you know, your credit card is being charged for a set of 18" Nismo rims when youre driving a kancil. Nice.

All in all, setting up your own wireless network is pretty cool. Just make sure you take necessary precautions. A month a go, i had to drag my freakin' phone line outta my room all the way to the dining hall to hook up to my laptop to use the net. Today, i blog without boundaries on my laptop while my sis play's "Gunbound" on the family PC.

COOLNESS.