My window to the world


Tips for dealing with Conficker

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 31-Mar-2009 17:43

Since  the topic is Conficker, most home users should have Windows Update enabled by default and should not be affected by Conficker. I think most of the affected machines I've heard of were corporate PCs - in which case some IT departments choose to enable or disabled automatic updates depending on their management policies.

There are some common sense tips though:

• Fully install the MS08-067 update on all your Windows PCs.
• Use an antivirus product. All the major ones detect and block Conficker from copying itself to other machines. Microsoft Forefront Client Security and Windows Live OneCare can/did block this worm.
• Use strong passwords both for any user account and also for any file shares.

I know Microsoft has a US$250,000 reward for information that results in the arrest and conviction of those responsible for illegally launching the Conficker malicious code on the Internet...

A lot of information on Conficker can be found here at http://www.microsoft.com/protect/computer/viruses/worms/conficker.mspx. Also more information here:

• The MSRC weblog (http://blogs.technet.com/MSRC)
• The MMPC weblog (http://blogs.technet.com/MMPC)
• The consumer security weblog (http://blogs.msdn.com/securitytipstalk/)
• The consumer Conficker landing page  (same as above) (http://www.microsoft.com/protect/computer/viruses/worms/conficker.mspx)
• IT Pro Conficker landing page (http://www.microsoft.com/conficker
• More information and free support for Conficker issues can be found here http://microsoft.com/protect or in the US and Canada can call the PC Safety hotline at 1-866-PCSAFETY.

And remember to always practice safe computing.



Internet Marketing is biggest threat to Twitter

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 26-Mar-2009 09:18

You all know those websites promising fortune and glory. You could get $5,000 a week without leaving home! Learn how to earn Google money using a "system" someone is selling for $49 - a $250 off!

What a bargain, isn't it? If this could really provide you with $5,000 a week why is this guy selling his "secret"?

Yes, you get the idea. If it's too good to be true, then it probably is.

And we have Twitter, the microblogging service that is fun - until you start getting the damn spammers in your "followers" list.

For example I've created a new Twitter account to share my favourite RSS clips with friends - and the world. After only a couple of days it has a few followers. But let's look at their profiles:

"Internet Marketing & Attraction Marketing Instructor"

"I will help you learn how money works and how to make it work for you!"

"Husband, father, social media,tax guy, blogger, startups, entrepreneur, consultant. How can I help?"

"Internet Marketer/Author/Entrepreneur"

"Hustling my way through life, Marketing, SEO, Affiliates, Comedy, Youtube, Motivational; I rarely check DM's if you sent one please @ me letting me know thxs"

"Internet Marketing & Attraction Marketing Instructor"

"I help entrepreneurs grow their businesses while working less."

"Full time network marketer and loving being able to help others. In top 25 of company I work with."

"Clickbank ready packages - book, website etc. Please ask me for more info"

"Father / Husband, Internet Marketer, Traffic Specialist, Affiliate Marketer, and Coach"

Oh yes, they are all my "friends". And what do they post in their tweets? Just have a look at these:



Or this one:



Look at those numbers. This person is obviously spamming away, and he still has more than 40,000 people following his tweets!

I said it before about blogging: the people making most money with blogging are those teaching others how to make money with blogging.

And look at all those messages. What are those links you ask? Don't bother visiting, I will give you a glimpse of some of those:










One of these actually create a long video with precise instructions on how to get more than 30,000 Twitter Followers in a few days. With big loud words and all:



These days I had to turn off the Twitter e-mail notifications. If people noticed I don't follow back, it's simply because managing Twitter followers is too much of a time consuming task, when you receive a few notifications every day, check each profile and decide that 80% of those are spammers.

There are two types there: the ones that have a huge following (such as those examples here), or those who use automated tools to create an account, follow a couple of thousand people and post a single tweet saying something like "It really works, I got a free iPhone, visit my site".

Even if you decide to block these "gurus" you still have to visit their profiles at least once. And that's when you see their (very annoying) messages.

There's also the problem with people who are so eager to have followers and show how "engaged" they are that auto-follow tools are used to automatically follow new "friends". It means at least in a few cases those "gurus" get undiscriminate follow back. If you are not discerning who you follow back then your list is probably already filled with these contacts - shame on you for feeding these guys!

Twitter is not helping either - they should attach the new followers' profile to the notification e-mail - this would save users a lot of time managing the list. They should also include a "Block this user" link on each email too.

Seriously. When people start talking about "Twitter Conferences", "bringing Twitter to schools" or "companies should use Twitter" you have to stop and think there's something wrong there. The service should really exclude these type of spam/scam otherwise it will have so much noise soon that it will die. A well deserved death.



... and please remove this information or we will call our lawyers

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 25-Mar-2009 15:27

There's a New Zealand company asking me to remove some information from the Geekzone forums, otherwise they'll be calling the lawyers in.

The information they want removed from the forums is someone's name who is not related to the company anymore - he once was the majority shareholder until something showed up on the newspapers and he had to sell his participation in the company to his brother.

Now comes the thing: the "information" they want removed from the forums is just a quote from the New Zealand Companies Office (@CompaniesOffice on Twitter), part of the Ministry of Economic Development.

This information that causes so much trouble is only a copy of the publicly available records for this company, showing that this person was a shareholder and sold his participation back in September 2008. Nothing else. Just a record of ownership and transfer.

Basically they want us to remove a fact stated on a public forum because it doesn't look good - regardless of this fact being publicly available on a government website.

There you go. I replied asking for more information but no answer yet.





Quick way to check for Hyper-V capabilties

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 25-Mar-2009 11:01

When I first installed Microsoft Hyper-V on our servers I noticed one of the requirements was hardware assisted virtualization support and hardware DEP support.

This is ok when you are working with high end server and know the company (in my case HP) supports the Hyper-V environment on their servers, etc.

But what if you want to install Windows Server 2008 with Hyper-V on a development desktop or laptop? How do you know if your hardware has the required specs to  run it?

I found out a quick way to get this information is to run the GRC SecurAble program. If you see something like this then you are most likely good to go:



This is on my Acer Ferrari 5000 laptop. Of course for a more detailed hardware inventory and compatibility analysis you should check the Microsoft Assessment and Planning Toolkit. And for a complete view of your hardware, it's hard to beat the freeware CPU-Z:







New Zealand Community SharePoint Conference 2009

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 24-Mar-2009 16:22

The New Zealand Community SharePoint Conference 2009 will be the conference you have to attend this year to learn about Microsoft SharePoint 2007, collaboration and related topics.



Happening in Wellington, 2nd and 3rd July 2009, the conference has two full days of sessions Level 100 (no previous experience required), Level 200 (previous experience or knowledge expected) and Level 300 (deep dive).

The New Zealand Community SharePoint Conference 2009 is being promoted by the New Zealand SharePoint Community and has a list of speakers from Australia, New Zealand, and the United States.



Windows Home Server Power Pack 2 announced

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 24-Mar-2009 15:51

Windows Home Server Power Pack 2 will be available shortly. It brings quite a few updates and the first Media Center-aware connector software:



I have been using it as part of the beta (codenamed Snoqualmie) and it's a solid build - very few bugs filled, and the RC is running on my Windows Home Server for some time now. Worth it!



Internet Explorer 8 RSS bug shows its head again - will webmasters notice?

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 22-Mar-2009 13:44

If you are a webmaster and see an increase in traffic, check your logs - look for the user-agent "Windows-RSS-Platform/2.0 (MSIE 8.0"...

During the beta period I logged a fault that existed only when people using the Windows RSS platform on Internet Explorer 7 upgraded to the Internet Explorer 8 beta code. Basically Internet Explorer 8 goes crazy and instead of checking RSS feeds once every hour (or the time you set), does it hundreds of times per minute.

During tests I found some browsers checking some Geekzone RSS feeds about 20,000 thousand times in a period of a few hours.

I wasn't happy, and logged a fault. Microsoft's response was "Closed - can't reproduce".

Guess what? Now Internet Explorer 8 is out and I've just noticed this happening again:



I've just blocked this IP address but there are others. So my only option at the moment is to simply filter all requests from this user-agent.

If you are a webmaster, check your logs and see if you can catch this on your server too. Please let me know.






How fast is fast? Or does it matter when using a web browser?

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 20-Mar-2009 14:25

Now that Internet Explorer 8 is available for everyone (except for the Windows 7 beta platform) I hear a few talking about how this browser or that browser is faster than the others.

The reality is most people "browse the web", don't race it. And while faster is always better and perceptions can be deceiving , I was intrigued when I was told of some interesting results coming out of a study on "measuring browser performance".

For starters we are talking about a controlled measurement of browser performance. There are issues and configurations that need management. Once these are out of the way, then we can start talking.

Here is an interesting video about this and the results. Watch to the end:


IE8 Performance

Once there's a level playing field and people start talking about a group of 25 most visited websites on the Internet - according to Comscore - then the results are in: Internet Explorer loads those sites faster 48% of the time, Google Chrome wins 36% of the time, and Firefox is best 16% of the time. Here is the table from the document referenced earlier in this post:



Another thing to consider when we talk speed is "how much time and effort is need to get things 'done'"? For example one of the new features on Internet Explorer 8 are "accelerators" - shortcuts that give instant access to add-on features. There are a few accelerator add-ons available now that add some functionality to the browser.

For example in the screenshot below once the address is highlighted and the user clicks on the blue arrow then a series of "accelerators" show up, including "Map with Yahoo!", "Search with Facebook", etc. This feature gives almost instant access to features people use most, without requiring lots of "select", "copy", "open new browser", "navigate to site", "paste text", "select function" routine.



What is your own personal experience? Have you tried Internet Explorer 8 yet? What results you've seen?



The Nintendo DSi goes to... Leigh Primary School

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 20-Mar-2009 11:27

Yesterday I posted some of my Nintendo DSi unboxing pictures and commented on my Twitter that it would be up on a Geekzone giveaway soon. This is one of the three units Nintendo gave away during the press briefing for the New Zealand launch.



Instead of giving this away on Geekzone though I've decided to donate it to the Leigh Primary School so they can use it as a prize during their Easter Carnival. I am sure our readers will understand :)



A win for SilverStripe, Microsoft and Open Source in general

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 19-Mar-2009 19:46

Congratulations to SilverStripe, Microsoft and the Open Source community in general working together to have Wellington-developed Open Source CMS SilverStripe in the Microsoft Web Platform Installer.



Here's just a bit from Nigel's blog - I recommend you read the whole post there:


Last July I spent a day at the Open Source Lab at Microsoft in the USA. Here I met Hank Janssen and Michael Joffe, and we started talking about working with PHP developers, the SQL Server Driver for PHP that his team had written and an update on running PHP applications on Windows.

Over the last year the Microsoft Open Source team have worked and contributed code to the communities that create some of the most popular open source applications in the world. This effort has culminated in an ambitious project that makes it easy for you to install your favourite “FREE” web applications and get them working on Windows and IIS.

This got me thinking of who in New Zealand would be a good candidate to engage with the Microsoft Open Source Labs to be added to the next group of Web Application Partners? How about Siggy and the SilverStripe team?

SilverStripe won the NZ Open Source award for Best Open Source Software Project of 2008 followed by SilverStripe winning the 2008 Most Promising Open Source CMS in the Packt UK awards.
Driven by my efforts to connect both sides, in August last year SilverStripe and Microsoft entered into a PHP on Windows Joint Development Program to get SilverStripe fully supported on Windows and part of the next iteration of the new Web Platform Installer.

The first challenge was to get Microsoft Software into SilverStripe’s hand. They hadn’t tested or developed on our platform before so they would need access to copies of Windows Server and SQL Server. Timing was great as we had just launched BizSpark in New Zealand so we signed the SilverStripe product up for that.

As part of the JDP, Microsoft technical support was available free of charge to SilverStripe from the US and Germany, but as the project progressed the talented and helpful Jorke Odolphi (Microsoft Australian Web Infrastructure Advisor), jumped into help SilverStripe, lead by Sam Minnée, with their testing and deployment.

SilverStripe incorporated some of the recent IIS7 enhancements features like URL Rewrite in their Windows Server 2008 solution. When it became clear that many of their community were using Windows Server 2003 and Windows XP, access to expert Microsoft technical staff enabled SilverStripe developers to determine the best way to achieve IIS 6 compatibility and update the core product accordingly in record time.



freitasm's profile

Mauricio Freitas
Wellington
New Zealand


I live in New Zealand and my interests include mobile devices, good books, movies and food of course! 

I work for Intergen and I'm also the Geekzone admin. On Geekzone we publish news, reviews and articles on technology topics. The site also has some busy forums.

Subscribe now to my blog RSS feed or the Geekzone RSS feed.

If you want to contact me, please use this page or email me freitasm@geekzone.co.nz. Note this email is not for technical support. I don't give technical support. You can use our Geekzone Forums for community discussions on technical issues.

Here's is my full disclosure post.

If you'd like to help me keep Geekzone going, please use this Geekzone Amazon affiliate link when placing any orders on Amazon.



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