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Microsoft Antispyware Beta 1 Initial Impressions

Summary ScreenHere is a look at the summary screen of the new MS Antispyware Beta 1 application. As you can see, it is set to expire July 31 of this year. The left side lists a summary of the configuration for the software – current status, last scan and results, whether or not the realtime protection is loaded, and current version of the signature database.

Microsoft Antispyware Beta Full ScanHere are the results from my first scan. It took a wopping 12 minutes 28 seconds to do a complete scan with the deep scanning options turned on. This was not the quick scan that you access from the summary page, but rather a scan of every file on my hard drive, the entire registry, and every process running in memory. Pretty impressive performance if you ask me. The only curious thing is that they indicate scanning 1,606 running processes, but my task manager only lists 56, even with the option to show all processes from all users.

Security Agent StatusThis is a little subsection of the Real Time Protection summary page. As you can see, the app puts hooks in to various parts of the OS. It protects startup items (registry, start menu startup folder, etc.), various network and internet settings, etc. You can get details for each of the items protected by clicking on any of the three sections, Internet Agents, System Agents, or Application Agents.

warningThis is the warning screen that pops up when something tries to modify your system by adding itself to the startup folder. I was pretty impressed when this happened. The only danger here is in the user not knowing any better and saying allow. This will require some education on our part. The other thing of note here is that it will send the information on whether or not you allow this modification to SpyNet, which I assume is a central database that evaluates for inclusion in the spyware signature database.

Overall I am initially impressed with the application. I am going to perform some further testing later to determine how well it works on a machine that I know is infected with spyware and how well it does at preventing spyware, both from inside Firefox and IE. I will post my results. Until then…

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Microsoft Antispyware Beta Download

The Microsoft Anti-spyware beta is available for download here. The only issue you may have is in trying to download this using Firefox or a non-IE browser. You must click the continue button in the Validate section of the page, then you will be prompted to download and run a Windows validation utility. Finally, you copy and paste the validation code from the utility into the page and you are directed to the download location. I will be installing this directly and will report later on my experience with it.

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Order tickets for Philly Cooks!, a Benefit for MANNA

Go here to order your tickets now for a fabulous event to benefit MANNA. Philly Cooks! is sponsored by Philadelphia Magazine.

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MANNA Needs Volunteers!

MANNA urgently needs drivers, but they are also always looking for many different types of volunteers. Here is some information on the delivery drivers – for more info, see their website here.

MANNA drivers provide both nutritional and emotional support for the individuals and families that they serve. Drivers have direct contact with the people who receive MANNA meals.
• Deliveries take place Monday through Friday between 11:00 a.m.and 3:00 p.m.
• A delivery route typically takes between 1 and 2 hours and can begin at MANNA.
• Assignments are available throughout Philadelphia and Camden County, as well as Bucks, Montgomery, Chester and Delaware Counties.
• If at all possible, MANNA will custom-fit assignments to each volunteer’s schedule and preference of neighborhood.
• Typical assignments take about 1 1/2 hours, once a week, and can even be done on an extended lunch break.
• Volunteers do need to have a valid driver’s license and provide insurance for their own vehicles.

MANNA reminds all driving volunteers to maintain the confidentiality of clients by not wearing any MANNA clothing or hats while doing deliveries. In addition, no MANNA bumper stickers, flyers, etc. can be displayed on delivery vehicles. Click here for more information on client confidentiality.

Interested in delivering MANNA meals? Click here if you are an individual or click here if you are a part of a group.

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MANNA launches new website and Pie in the Sky!


For those of you that don’t know about MANNA, it is a local organization that provides nutrition to individuals and families dealing with the ravages of HIV/AIDS. I both volunteer for and work with them. They recently launched a new site on which you can register for their mailing list, make a donation, or sign up to volunteer.

Most importantly right now, though, is their annual event, Pie in the Sky. For each $25 pie that you buy, you will provide a Thanksgiving dinner for a family of 4. I can’t think of too many options for that kind of impact, so go buy your pie today. I have personally tasted many of the varieties, and they are outstanding! Go buy a pie, and give them a link on your own site, too.

Unfortunately, if you aren’t in Philadelphia you can’t order a pie for shipping, but we are looking into options for that perhaps for next year. If you know someone in the Philadelphia region, though, and want to buy them a pie, get in touch with me, and I can help you make arrangements to get it to them.

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FoxyTunes – Control any media player from Firefox and more…

This extension for Firefox is WAY cool!

Oh, and sorry for the hiatus. I am going to start posting again as time allows, but business has been crazy! To my clients and friends, I am terribly sorry for the delays lately, but I am going to have it together soon.

And one last thing – the site should have a new look soon!

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Exchange 2003 Recovery Storage Groups

I attended the MS Technet Briefing yesterday that covered both Virtual PC 2004, which I have already started using myself, and Exchange 2003 disaster recovery, which I have experience with in prior versions, but not so much in 2003. I was blown away by the new Recovery Storage Group feature. The presenter demonstrated both a recovery of deleted items from a single user’s mailbox, and he showed what was called a dial-tone recovery of an Exchange Information Store.

For anyone that hasn’t done an Exchange disaster recovery, this may not be that impressive, but here are the steps for a single-server disaster recovery of a crashed Exchange Private Information Store (not a crashed Windows server). This outline assumes a good backup from the previous night.

  1. Information Store crashes, and the administrator is notified.
  2. Administrator stops the Exchange services and moves the corrupt copies of the priv1.edb and priv1.stm files to another location for possible recovery at a later time.
  3. Administrator restarts the information store service and the IS fails to mount. Administrator mounts the IS and is informed that this will result in the creation of a blank database. Administrator accepts the warning. USERS ARE NOW ABLE TO SEND AND RECEIVE EMAIL. Total elapsed time to this point should be less than 10 minutes.
  4. Administrator creates a recovery storage group in the Exchange System Manager disaster recovery section.
  5. Administrator begins a restore of the Exchange database to the RSG. (This will happen automatically, since the mounted blank database that is currently in use is protected from overwrite by the restore process, and the RSG database is automatically configured to allow an overwrite by a restore. The administrator does not have to tell the backup to do anything other than restore the IS backup.)
  6. At this point, Administrator has a choice to either begin an Exmerge of the data from the restored database into the newly created blank copy, which could take a significant period of time, or to swap the recovered database with the live blank one and then import only the new items from the mostly blank database.

As anyone who has ever done an alternate server recovery with Exchange can attest, this process is incredibly simple and fast!!!! Way to go, MS. This feature, alone, is almost worth the cost of an upgrade to Exchange 2003.

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Browser hijackers can be more dangerous than some people think

One of the biggest problems I have seen recently, both in corporate and home environments, is the unwitting hijacking of users’ computers by various malicious software, some of the most common of which are browser hijackers. This is an article at Wired magazine that should give you pause. You have to be EXTREMELY careful when you go to any website that you don’t know. The next time someone forwards you that funny game that is out there on the Internet, give it a little thought before you actually go get it.

Here is a list of resources that I use to combat spyware and malware on users’ computers:

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Hybrid car technology – is it as good as they say?

Wow is all I can say. I read this article at Wired magazine, and then I went to Pete Blackshaw’s blog about his real-world experience with his Civic hybrid, and I have to admit that it may have changed my mind about buying a hybrid as my next car. I am a little concerned, and I hope by the time I am actually ready to buy one that they will have improved the technology to actually achieve their mileage estimates in the real world. Only time will tell.

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Sasser worm author confesses

Here is a slew of links to the coverage of the apprehension of the Sasser worm author:

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