My Thoughts On IT…

Brian Lewis's Thoughts on all things Information Technology related

I came across this today. It is a video blog about two Samsung laptops.
http://windowsteamblog.com/windows/b/windowsexperience/archive/2011/06/20/pc-snapshot-samsung-qx410-and-sf510.aspxSF_Image1_7

As you may remember I really want a Samsung Series 9 laptop but I thought it was a little pricy.  That is why I found these laptops interesting. Samsung has really done a great job of creating visually appealing laptops and has a very competitive price. If you take a look at the old IBM Thinkpads designs they look very techy with exposed ports on both sides. These Samsung laptops are very visually appealing and I believe we are seeing the start of a transformation in the laptop industry to elegant laptop designs. Just look at the lines of the SF510 in the photo to the right. I believe Intel sees the need for this style in laptops and is part of what’s behind the push of their thin "Ultrabooks".

These two machines have been out for a while so the prices are pretty low. Check it out on Bing! Smile

computer_iconA common way for cybercriminals to steal money from people is through the use of fake security software, according to the most recent Microsoft Security Intelligence Report.

This kind of software is also known as “scareware” or “rogue security software.” Cybercriminals use it to scare people into downloading more malicious software onto their computer or pay for a fake product. For more information, see Watch out for fake virus alerts.

imageEvery so often there is a good deal in processors. Back in the day my first good purchase was the AMD 386-40mhz. A well priced chip that was screaming fast for the time. It was great because your purchase would last for several years before becoming obsolete. Other good deals I had were the Intel 486-66mhz and then there were the CPUs that I overclocked. In the days of the processor speeds doubling every 18 months you sometimes wanted for a new faster machine just a few months after your purchase.  It hasn’t been as important lately because A machines you bought 5 years ago can run the latest OSs just fine. But everybody still likes a good deal. I think I found a one. It looks good on paper but I have yet to play with one – so results may vary.

The AMD Fusion Processors combines a graphics processor and a quad core CPU and gives about 10 hours of battery life. Initial reports are that it gives great graphics performance and solid CPU speeds. There are laptops from various manufactures. The Toshiba Satellite C600 starts at $379 list price. I found the ASUS Eee PC 1015B for $290. There are others too they seem to range between $290 and $600 list. If you are looking for a low priced laptop that has good battery life and good graphics performance these are something to take a look at.

More information can be here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AMD_Fusion
http://www.zdnet.com/blog/gadgetreviews/hp-toshiba-launch-amd-fusion-laptops-from-379-and-up/25565?alertspromo=&tag=nl.rSINGLE
http://www.bing.com/search?q=AMD+Fusion+Processors

imageEvery so often there is a good deal in processors. Back in the day my first good purchase was the AMD 386-40mhz. A well priced chip that was screaming fast for the time. It was great because your purchase would last for several years before becoming obsolete. Other good deals I had were the Intel 486-66mhz and then there were the CPUs that I overclocked. In the days of the processor speeds doubling every 18 months you sometimes wanted for a new faster machine just a few months after your purchase.  It hasn’t been as important lately because A machines you bought 5 years ago can run the latest OSs just fine. But everybody still likes a good deal. I think I found a one. It looks good on paper but I have yet to play with one – so results may vary.

The AMD Fusion Processors combines a graphics processor and a quad core CPU and gives about 10 hours of battery life. Initial reports are that it gives great graphics performance and solid CPU speeds. There are laptops from various manufactures. The Toshiba Satellite C600 starts at $379 list price. I found the ASUS Eee PC 1015B for $290. There are others too they seem to range between $290 and $600 list. If you are looking for a low priced laptop that has good battery life and good graphics performance these are something to take a look at.

More information can be here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AMD_Fusion
http://www.zdnet.com/blog/gadgetreviews/hp-toshiba-launch-amd-fusion-laptops-from-379-and-up/25565?alertspromo=&tag=nl.rSINGLE
http://www.bing.com/search?q=AMD+Fusion+Processors

June 14—Time to update your PCs…

Tuesday, June 14, Microsoft will issue 16 security bulletins through the regularly scheduled monthly release cycle to address nine Critical vulnerabilities and seven Important vulnerabilities in Microsoft Windows, Office, Internet Explorer (IE), .NET, SQL, Visual Studio, Silverlight, and Internet Security and Acceleration (ISA) Server. Additionally, the company will release statistics on the decline in Autorun-related malware infections. 

The clock is ticking so install your patches today and stay “clean”!!!

June 14—Time to update your PCs…

Tuesday, June 14, Microsoft will issue 16 security bulletins through the regularly scheduled monthly release cycle to address nine Critical vulnerabilities and seven Important vulnerabilities in Microsoft Windows, Office, Internet Explorer (IE), .NET, SQL, Visual Studio, Silverlight, and Internet Security and Acceleration (ISA) Server. Additionally, the company will release statistics on the decline in Autorun-related malware infections. 

The clock is ticking so install your patches today and stay “clean”!!!

clip_image002Microsoft Virtual Academy

At MMS we launched the Microsoft Virtual Academy (www.MicrosoftVirtualAcademy.com).  This training portal offers quick and easy access to presentations, webcasts, whitepapers and other technical content about Microsoft’s Cloud technologies.  It is free and you learn at your own pace while earning awards and recognitions for answering evaluation questions, while connecting with thousands of other IT Pros.

Check it out and let me know what you think!

I previously wrote about the weak passwords most people choose to use. See http://mythoughtsonit.com/?p=279 for a refresher.

There are all kinds of attacks against our passwords. From shoulder surfing to keystroke logging to rainbow tables. What we had going for us is that a brute force attack where a computer guessed all possible combinations of possible passwords took years. Well that timeframe has been greatly shortened with the use of your video cards GPU. GPUs are optimized for mathematics. This gives us some very realistic video in games like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. The GPUs have been getting faster and faster which means better video in game play. It also means that when these processors are used for other tasks such as offline password cracking they do it very fast.

A scary example, from a ZDnet article, illustrates how much this speeds up cracking a password:

Take a password consisting of seven characters, mixed-case/symbols random password like ‘F6&B is’ (note the space), that’s gotta be tough for a bruteforce attack. Right? A CPU will take some 75 days to churn through the possibilities, while a GPU is done with it in 7 hours.

What took 75 days is now only 7 hours – yikes! It is a known issue that short passwords were going to become easy to break as machines get faster and faster. It is just happening faster than previously thought. You may want to move to random 15 character passwords sooner rather than later.

Here is the full ZDnet article: “Cheap GPUs are rendering strong passwords useless”
http://www.zdnet.com/blog/hardware/cheap-gpus-are-rendering-strong-passwords-useless/13125?alertspromo=&tag=nl.rSINGLE

Microsoft has just made a standalone version of System Sweeper available. This tool is similar to the rescue CD tools I blogged about yesterday. Microsoft’s is also Free.

This tool is a malware recovery tool that boots from a CD or USB stick.

The tool, currently in beta, is called Microsoft Standalone System Sweeper, and promises to help start an infected PC and perform an offline scan to help identify and remove rootkits and other advanced malware. You can download it here: http://connect.microsoft.com/systemsweeper

It is available for both 32-but and 64-bit Windows systems and uses the same antivirus engine as Microsoft Security Essentials. Both versions first download a 576k wizard that builds the CD or USB boot stick. The wizard downloads about another 200 meg to create the boot CD, USB boot stick, or ISO.

Here are the screenshots of the wizard running. Click on them for a larger view.

sass1 (Small)

sass2 (Small)

sass3 (Small)

sass4 (Small)

sick-computerInfected machines are not a prevalent as you might think. Estimates are that it is under one percent of all connected Windows Machines are infected with worms and viruses. If you have a machine that you think has a problem then a Rescue CD is what you need. These are tools that enable you to boot up your machine from a CD or USB key and check for Rootkits, Spyware, Viruses, and worms.

Here are a two free ones that will help you remove the nastier Root-kits & Trojans:
(Download the ISO file and burn a CD. Then boot your system off of the CD)

Another option that I like is the Microsoft Diagnostics and Recovery Toolset. It is a for charge product that is a core component of the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack for Software Assurance. It helps IT teams make PCs safer to use, keeps employees productive, and enables desktops that are easier and less expensive to manage. Administrators can easily recover PCs that have become unusable, rapidly diagnose probable causes of issues, and quickly repair unbootable or locked-out systems, all faster than the average time it takes to reimage the machine. When necessary, you can also quickly restore critical lost files. I have a previous blog entry on how to get your hand on this with a TechNet or MSDN subscription. You can also get it off of your volume licensing download site. 
http://mythoughtsonit.com/?s=dart