My Thoughts On IT…

Brian Lewis's Thoughts on all things Information Technology related

intelXeonIntel’s new Xeon E7 processor family consists of 18 processors. They are built with the new 32nm chip manufacturing process and are screaming fast.

My favorite it is the top of the line processor, the E7-8870. It has 10 cores at 2.4 Ghz with a 30mb L3 cache. All of this in 130w of power envelope. With hyper-threading enabled you have 20 threads running concurrently on a single processor. With the base ability to have up to 8 of these chips on a motherboard you get a huge machine that can concurrently run 160 threads at 2.4Ghz.

That is one heck of a fast and scalable machine. However; with a cost of $4616 per CPU I will be waiting for the price to come down a bit. At the bottom end of the list is the E7-2803. It has 6 cores running at 1.73ghz with an 18mb L3 cache and costs $774.

For more info search the web as there are tons of stories on these chips:
http://www.bing.com/search?q=+Xeon+E7

Twitter Tools

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twitter-logo-smallI just found two very cool search tools in twitter.

The first is the “Who To Follow” feature that looks at who you follow already and makes some suggestions. It worked really well for me. Give it a try at this link:
https://twitter.com/#!/who_to_follow

The other tool I found is the advanced search feature. It has many options for searching and I believe is a new feature. Search tweets here:
http://search.twitter.com/advanced

From the TechNet Flash news letter…

As an IT Pro Evangelist for Microsoft, not only do I keep up my own blog (MyThoughtsOnIT.com), but I peruse numerous other blogs to see what my tech-savvy peers are writing about. I always gravitate to one of my favorite topics, computer security. I’m less interested in security regulation and standards. My natural inquisitive nature is more interested in what happens when you do something against those standards. For example, when I was a teenager learning to drive I wanted to know what would happen if you shift the car into park while it is in motion. Does it lock the drive wheels? Does it do anything at all? Fortunately (or not) there are so many other inquisitive minds out there that there is never a shortage of fascinating ideas people come up with that "mess with the system" and oppose security standards. In case you’re wondering, on my parent’s car it made a metallic noise like a bolt slipping over a notch until the car slowed to under about 3 miles per hour, and then it locked the drive wheels and brought the car to a stop. Not the smartest thing to do, but certainly inquisitive!

I recently stumbled across a very interesting website that takes the standard practice of registration for free websites and throws it into park. The website is www.bugmenot.com. BugMeNot is a free website that stockpiles login accounts for free sites so that you don’t have to create an account to access those free services. According to the BugMeNot website, "BugMeNot.com was created as a mechanism to quickly bypass the login of web sites that require compulsory registration and/or the collection of personal/demographic information." While I don’t see huge security implications from the existence of this website, I do see it as messing with the standard system of site registration. It may not be as exciting as throwing your moving car into park, but it does spur your imagination as to what people are doing to work around the system.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this and other topics in technology today. Post a comment on my blog at MyThoughtsOnIT.com.

55-101-257_h4Just as most of you I have read about Stuxnet before and while it is interesting on it’s own from a virus technology perspective I think this whole incident is telling about what the future holds.

The first revelation I had in regards to Stuxnet was that this was the first big cyber attack I have witnessed by the US or it’s allies.

The next revelation about Stuxnet was when I watched the presentation by Ralph Langner listed below. He points out that the changes that Stuxnet did to the centrifuges not only screwed up Iran’s uranium in the enrichment cycle but it also could have cause instability in the centrifuges enough to cause metal fatigue and making them physically break apart. i.e. explode.

It is suspected the Stuxnet was written by the US or the Israelis or both At first blush this is very cool. The west has security experts that are so proficient that they can damage a rival countries atomic bomb program with a computer virus instead of a bombing run. I am sure that saved a lot of lives and political problems. But wait, as Ralph points out, there are others who now have this code. They can take parts of it like the assembly code that controls the PLCs. This is really scary. Enemies of the United States can take parts of this attack and use it against US companies. Now that is not so cool. We in the United States have a lot of infrastructure we need to protect.

My third and final revelation from Stuxnet is that this is just the beginning of things to come in Cyber warfare. It is notable that the United States Cyber Command (USCYBERCOM) did reach full operational capability on October 31, 2010. I am not the only one who noticed this; other countries have created their own cyber warfare divisions. So, those of you who are responsible for your companies security and have computerized manufacturing need to worry about more than denial of service and data loss. Protect those PLCs! – Brian

Ralph Langner Stuxnet Video
http://youtu.be/CS01Hmjv1pQ 

MP900422353 (Mobile)Yes it’s true. Microsoft’s iSCSI target software is available for downlaod for free. What does this mean? It means you can install the Microsoft iSCSI software target on a Windows Server 2008 R2 system and use it as shared storage for Live Migration.

Windows has had an iSCSI initiator or client in it for a while. It is available as a download for server 2003 and is in the box of server 2008 and above. The client allows you to connect to an iSCSI target over tcp/ip and mount the storage it provides you as a local disk. It is like fiber attached storage without the fiber and the cost. The iSCSI target software we just released is the server side of this equation.

The full announcement about the release of the Microsoft iSCSI Software Target from Jose Barreto:
http://blogs.technet.com/b/josebda/archive/2011/04/04/microsoft-iscsi-software-target-3-3-for-windows-server-2008-r2-available-for-public-download.aspx

The Microsoft iSCSI Software Target Download:
http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/en/details.aspx?FamilyID=45105d7f-8c6c-4666-a305-c8189062a0d0

Configuring the Microsoft iSCSI Software Target with Hyper-V blog from Jose:
http://blogs.technet.com/b/josebda/archive/2009/01/31/step-by-step-using-the-microsoft-iscsi-software-target-with-hyper-v-standalone-full-vhd.aspx

ie9answerSome organizations are stuck running IE6 for their web browser. This is because they have an application that is necessary to run their business that requires IE6. Often these are custom built applications that need to be re-written to support newer browsers. Other times these are large applications like Oracle’s Siebel CRM software. Where you had to buy the newest version to get the updated code. In the case of Oracles Siebel they were very slow to update even their newest software to support IE7. BTW: Siebel did get a fix. A customer I worked with spent over 8 months pushing their support to get them to fix their this. It required a Siebel upgrade and was over a year after IE 7 was released.

While working with this same large customer, who was looking at migrating their desktops from XP to Vista, I helped them evaluate application compatibility. The cost to actually upgrade their machines (licensing & time) was less than one-tenth the cost to evaluate and fix compatibility issues. Most of these issues were around IE6. They would have loved to have UniBrows. This wouldn’t have removed all of the thirteen million dollars it cost them to test but it surely would have cut that by more than half.

They would still need to test their applications and then decide which need to run in IE6 compatibility mode. Then set up the rules that machine would automatically know which sites to render in the IE6 engine. As they upgraded their applications they could simply remove them from the list and have a neat and tidy transition.

For more information on this exciting product see their web site here: http://www.browsium.com/

ie9answerSome organizations are stuck running IE6 for their web browser. This is because they have an application that is necessary to run their business that requires IE6. Often these are custom built applications that need to be re-written to support newer browsers. Other times these are large applications like Oracle’s Siebel CRM software. Where you had to buy the newest version to get the updated code. In the case of Oracles Siebel they were very slow to update even their newest software to support IE7. BTW: Siebel did get a fix. A customer I worked with spent over 8 months pushing their support to get them to fix their this. It required a Siebel upgrade and was over a year after IE 7 was released.

While working with this same large customer, who was looking at migrating their desktops from XP to Vista, I helped them evaluate application compatibility. The cost to actually upgrade their machines (licensing & time) was less than one-tenth the cost to evaluate and fix compatibility issues. Most of these issues were around IE6. They would have loved to have UniBrows. This wouldn’t have removed all of the thirteen million dollars it cost them to test but it surely would have cut that by more than half.

They would still need to test their applications and then decide which need to run in IE6 compatibility mode. Then set up the rules that machine would automatically know which sites to render in the IE6 engine. As they upgraded their applications they could simply remove them from the list and have a neat and tidy transition.

For more information on this exciting product see their web site here: http://www.browsium.com/

Internet Explorer 9, which is awesome, will be coming down to a windows 7 machine near you via Windows Update near the end of June 2011. If you don’t want your machine to receive this patch then you want to use the toolkit to disable automatic delivery of Internet Explorer 9. I have the download link below.

You may want to test now to see if you have any problems. The ability to render sites with an earlier IE rendering engine should reduce if not eliminate compatibility issues. For how to use this feature see my earlier post.

Toolkit to Disable Automatic Delivery of Internet Explorer 9
http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/en/details.aspx?FamilyID=a6169467-b793-4d17-837d-01776bf2bea4

IE9devTools (Small)My wife was filling out a college application for our nephew on her machine with IE 8. Her machine has since been upgraded to IE9. It could have been her IT group with pushing it out with System Center Configuration manager or I might have done it – we are not going to apply blame here… But now when she tries to go in and finish the application the college website says “The web browser you are using is not supported – please login with a supported browser”. As you might imagine she is more than a little perturbed.

Here is an easy solution to the problem. Go to the webpage you want to use and turn on the developer tools. Do this by pressing F12 or selecting “Developer Tools” in the settings menu. The developer tools will show at the bottom of the page. On the developer tools menu find the “Browser Mode” menu listing. Click it and choose which rendering engine you want to use. IE 7, IE 8 or IE 9.

Click on the image above to see a screenshot.

With this ability there is no reason not to download today.
Download IE 9 at http://www.beautyoftheweb.com/

IE9devTools (Small)My wife was filling out a college application for our nephew on her machine with IE 8. Her machine has since been upgraded to IE9. It could have been her IT group with pushing it out with System Center Configuration manager or I might have done it – we are not going to apply blame here… But now when she tries to go in and finish the application the college website says “The web browser you are using is not supported – please login with a supported browser”. As you might imagine she is more than a little perturbed.

Here is an easy solution to the problem. Go to the webpage you want to use and turn on the developer tools. Do this by pressing F12 or selecting “Developer Tools” in the settings menu. The developer tools will show at the bottom of the page. On the developer tools menu find the “Browser Mode” menu listing. Click it and choose which rendering engine you want to use. IE 7, IE 8 or IE 9.

Click on the image above to see a screenshot.

With this ability there is no reason not to download today.
Download IE 9 at http://www.beautyoftheweb.com/