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Take Windows vista enterprise for a test drive

June 9th, 2007 Comments off

Microsoft have made Windows Vista Enterprise available as a Virtual PC image for a 30 day evaluation.  This is great for those of us that would like to try it out but don’t want to upgrade our systems yet.  Microsoft Virtual PC 2007 is available as a free download so you have everything you need to get going.

I downloaded it onto my Windows XP Pro machine and I had it up and running with no issues.  One thing to watch is the virtual network card is not connected and you will need to modify this in Virtual PC before starting the image.

Download details: Windows Vista Enterprise 30 day Evaluation

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Categories: Windows Tags:

What is your backup strategy?

May 24th, 2007 3 comments

Backing up your important files is something everyone knows that they should do but not too many people actually do it. My backup strategy at the moment consists of regularly burning DVDs or copying files to my portable HDD. Definitely far better that not backing up at all but not exactly bullet proof. I am a firm believer that you should try and automate as much as possible because when things are left to humans they don’t always get done.

I have looked into online backup solutions, especially www.mozy.com where you download a client to your PC and it continually backs up your stuff. The main issue I have with an online solution is security. Mozy say that they use 128-bit (during transport) and 448-bit Blowfish encryption (on our server) so it sounds pretty secure. So maybe I would be willing to backup my digital photos but I would still be a bit slow to backup any files which I don’t want other people viewing (letters, documents, source code, etc.) Obviously there are huge benefits of the online backup strategy, your data backup is held offsite for one.

Another online storage solution is www.box.net – they have just released an MS Office integrated toolbar to allow you to save your documents directly online.

What is your current backup strategy? Do you use an online backup solution and if so do you worry about security ?

Categories: General, Windows Tags:

Download previous versions of popular apps

May 19th, 2007 2 comments

Sometimes you just need to get your hands on a previous version of a popular software application but it is no longer available from the official website. Take for example, web browsers, let’s say that you had to test your new website on Internet Explorer 5. If you go to Microsoft’s download section you will only be able to download Internet Explorer 7 at this stage. Well if you head over to http://www.oldversion.com/ then you can download all the previous versions of many of the world’s most popular applications. Take Internet Explorer for example, you can download versions of it right back to version 1.0 (that’s going back a while now).

I just took Internet Explorer as an example (I’m an avid Firefox fan) there are many other popular apps on the site.

Categories: Windows Tags:

Upgrading your PC’s RAM

March 20th, 2007 Comments off

I wanted to give my PC a bit of a boost so I decided to stick some more RAM in. The extra memory really helps out when you want to run VMWare images or Virtual PCs. So I wasn’t too sure which type of RAM I needed, there seems to be a ton of different questions/options when choosing RAM.

  • PC2700, PC3200, …
  • Parity or Non-Parity
  • Value of CL
  • How much RAM can I put in each slot ?
  • Do I have to keep the RAM chips balanced across slots ?

Even though I built the PC myself two years ago I still needed a bit of help when choosing the correct RAM chip.
Two resources which came in really handy were the following:

The Crucial System Scanner runs either in your browser (as an ActiveX) or as a downloadable exe and it scans your computer and gives you a report on what RAM that you need to buy. At least then you can be sure that what you buy will do the trick.

Categories: General, Windows Tags:

Securing your Wireless Network

March 19th, 2007 5 comments

I am setting up a Wifi network at home and this post details some of the security measures that I have taken. This is mainly advice that I have gotten from friends or just by googling. I am sure that I won’t mention everything you could do to secure your wifi network but it is at least a start. If you have any other tips then please leave a comment.

Change the default admin username/password
My router (Netopia) came with no login required so anyone on my home network could easier reconfigure my wireless router. This is an obvious security risk so you should ensure that credentials are required to change the router’s configuration and also ensure that you change the password to something other than the default.

Turn on Wireless Encryption
Any decent wireless router should come with this already turned on but you need to check this. My wireless router arrived with WEP enabled. Definitely better that no encryption at all but most wireless routers these days also support WPA which is actually more secure so you should change it to that to prevent someone from hacking your network.

MAC Address Filtering
Each network card is assigned a unique MAC address by the manufacturer. By enabling MAC address filtering you are only allowing computers with the preset MAC addresses access to the network. So in your router’s configuration you will need to add the MAC address of each device that you want to allow to access the network. Remember that if you friend calls around with their laptop then you will need to add their MAC address to the list. Apparently it is relatively easy to spoof a MAC address, a quick google told me how to change my MAC address in a matter of seconds. Still worth doing though

Static IP Addresses
For each device/computer to work correctly on the network it has to have a valid IP address. My wireless router was preconifgured to use DHCP (this is were the router dynamically assigns IP addresses to each computer that requests one). It is more secure to assign a Static IP address to each computer that requires access to the network. You will need to reconfigure your router to use static ip addressed instead of DHCP. Since a hacker is now not automatically assigned an IP address he/she would have to gain access to the router first to get an IP address.

Enable Firewalls
You should enable the in-built firewall in your wireless router and also ensure that you have a firewall on each device connected to your network. If you are running Windows that you can use either Windows Firewall or ZoneAlarm (free – I use this one).

These are by no means the only things that you can do to secure your network but it should be a good start. If you have any other ideas then please leave a comment.

Categories: security, Windows Tags:

Microsoft Virtual PC 2007 now available as free download

February 20th, 2007 Comments off

The latest version of Microsoft’s answer to VMWare Workstation is now available. Microsoft Virtual PC 2007 is now available to download for free. I am a huge fan of virtualization and I use VMWare Workstation on a daily basis during the software development process. I hope to post more in the future on how I use VMWare Workstation.

Virtual PC lets you create separate virtual machines on your Windows desktop, each of which virtualizes the hardware of a complete physical computer. Use virtual machines to run operating systems such as MS-DOS, Windows, and OS/2. You can run multiple operating systems at once on a single physical computer and switch between them as easily as switching applications—instantly, with a mouse click. Virtual PC is perfect for any scenario in which you need to support multiple operating systems, whether you use it for tech support, legacy application support, training, or just for consolidating physical computers.

Download Microsoft Virtual PC 2007

Categories: Software Development, Windows Tags:

Ultimate List of Free Windows Software from Microsoft

February 17th, 2007 Comments off

Here is a list of great free software apps and tools available from Microsoft

Ultimate List of Free Windows Software from Microsoft

Some of my favorites:

SyncToy – helps copy, move, and synchronize files with digital cameras, e-mail, cell phones, portable media players, camcorders, PDAs, and laptops.

Fiddler – a HTTP Debugging Proxy which logs all HTTP traffic between your computer and the Internet. Fiddler allows you to inspect all HTTP Traffic, set breakpoints, and “fiddle” with incoming or outgoing data. Absolutely necessary if you are doing any kind of web development.

Process Explorer – shows information about which handles and DLLs processes have opened or loaded. You can hook this up to be a replacement for Windows Task Manager. I never use boring old Task Manager. If you are not using this already then you should start now.

Categories: .NET, Software Development, Windows Tags:

Sysinternals now available as a single download

February 16th, 2007 Comments off

Sysinternals is an excellent suite of tools by Mark Russinovich (now working in Microsoft) that should be in everyone’s toolkit.

Download Sysinternals Suite

Categories: General, Software Development, Windows Tags:

Visual SourceSafe daylight saving time issues in 2007

January 31st, 2007 Comments off

Starting this year in 2007, the start date and the end date for daylight saving time (DST) in the United States will change. DST in the United States will start three weeks earlier and will end one week later than in previous years. DST will start at 2:00 A.M. on the second Sunday in March and will end at 2:00 A.M. on the first Sunday in November.

If you use Visual SourceSafe 2005 you will need to take action. If you do not update the servers and client computers, you may lose check-in information

If you use Visual SourceSafe 6.0, all you will need to do is change the clock on the computer at the appropriate time.

Visual SourceSafe daylight saving time issues in 2007

General info from Microsoft on the preparing for the change.
Preparing for daylight saving time changes in 2007

Categories: Software Development, Windows Tags:

Some performance tips for VMware Workstation users

January 28th, 2007 Comments off

Steve Richards has some performance tips for VMWare Workstation.

Some performance tips for VMware Workstation users

Being a big VMWare fan, I am always looking to squeeze that extra bit of performance out of VMWare. I’m going to implement these and report back with the details. I am already using Tip 2, I always run VMWare images on a second hard drive for performance reasons.

Categories: Software Development, Windows Tags: