If, like me, you move between Windows and Mac on a daily basis you may have found yourself finding it a little hard to figure out which way to scroll the mouse. With OS-X Lion Apple introduced ‘natural’ scrolling which means that when you scroll the wheel on the mouse an upwards push sends the scroll bar down, that might sound weird but in essence your upward movement of the wheel actually pushes the screen upwards – very much like a touch gesture on a smartphone or tablet.
Whether you love it out loath it, getting used to switching between the two is difficult and you could either turn it off on the Mac or if you like it you could bring the same feature to Windows. As it happens the feature is already there, to enable it you need to edit a registry key and if you’re not familiar with this process I would advise caution since a mistake in the Registry can make your machine quite unstable but if you’re comfortable with RegEdit you’ll need to modify the following key:
Set the value from 0 (default) to 1 where the ????\???? section are whatever device IDs you can see. I changed the FlipFlopWheel property for all of the devices I could see, unplugged and re-plugged the mouse and the then it worked – natural scrolling on Windows.
Credits go to darkfader on the NeoSmart forums for the original solution.
I just had cause to monitor the progress of a batch file to see if there are any particular sticking points, to do this I wanted to simply print the current time along with a little text describing the process being run. To do this I used the %time% variable as follows…
ECHO Batch Started at %time% [commands, commands, commands] ECHO Step 1 Completed at %time% [commands, commands, commands] ECHO Step 2 Completed at %time% ECHO Batch Completed at %time%
If you need to run an application using the credentials of a user other than yourself (or the one you’re logged-in as) in Windows 7 or Windows Server 2008 R2 (may work in other versions) all you need to do is hold shift as you right-click on the application.
For example, in this case I would like to launch Windows Explorer as a different user…
Lately I’ve been taking advantage of my MSDN subscription (thanks to Ken Simmons‘ competition last month) and playing with some new technologies, initially experimenting with Windows Server 2008 R2. If you hadn’t heard prior to launch period, Microsoft made 2008 R2 64-bit only – probably the right decision to make but whilst the software industry is still making a transition from 32-bit to 64-bit there are bound to be some niggles here and there.
Being a database guy, one of the issues I noticed right away was that the ODBC Data Source Administrator accessible via Control Panel / Administrative Tools is the 64-bit version and can only be used to setup connections for 64-bit ODBC drivers. Not only was the 64-bit version missing the Postgres driver I had just installed, there were no drivers at all other than SQL Server…
It turns out that there are are two, entirely identical ODBC tools and the one that most of us will end up using initially (unless we’re lucky enough to have an all 64-bit architecture) is kept in the basement that is the c:\Windows folder. The 32-bit ODBC Data Source Administrator can be found by going to the Start Menu, selecting Run and executing c:\Windows\SysWOW64\odbcad32.exe as follows…
Once launched, you’ll see a tool that appears to be identical in every way, except that the ‘missing’ ODBC drivers are now available…
Please note that you can’t run both 32-bit and 64-bit tools at the same time so please make sure you close the 64-bit one first, it’s also worth bearing in mind that if you’re running 32-bit applications they will probably be looking for 32-bit DSNs so even if you can get a 64-bit driver for your data source it doesn’t mean that it’s the right thing to do.
As much as I understand Microsoft’s decision to stop developing 32-bit operating systems, a little bit of a helping hand during the transition period would’ve been nice - perhaps a second shortcut in the Administrative tools folder and the ability to run them simultaneously? The whole thing seems like a confisuing mess in their own words…
The 32-bit version of the ODBC Administrator tool displays 32-bit system DSNs, 32-bit user DSNs, and 64-bit user DSNs. The 64-bit version of the ODBC Administrator tool displays 64-bit system DSNs, 32-bit user DSNs, and 64-bit user DSNs.
To maintain backward compatibility, no resolution for this problem is currently available… to work around this problem, use the appropriate version of the ODBC Administrator tool.
I’ve made my own shortcuts to the 32-bit version and if you’re like me and constantly diving in and out of ODBC Administrator then you’ll probably want to do the same.
Having been using PCs for at least twenty years and having been an IT Professional for the last eight it’s a rare occasion for me to be blown-away by a piece of technology but the Stoned Bootkit, presented by the author Peter Kleissner at HAR 2009, literally blows my mind. You can find the video here or the presentation here.
Essentially a bootkit is a small piece of code that can be inserted into the Master Boot Record of a PC’s main boot drive, this code is then executed every time the PC is switched on and executes before the operating system loads. This is effectively a variant of more traditional rootkits which tend to install themselves as low-level drivers as part of the operating system and they are both equally dangerous in that once a system has been compromised the writer of the rootkit/bootkit can effectively do whatever they like. This may range from logging and transmitting keystrokes and capturing bank details to bypassing product activation or enabling law enforcement to gain access to allow forensic analysis.
The Stoned Bootkit is effectively a technical demo and whilst it is entirely effective I am not aware that it has been put to any nefarious purpose, in fact it was released by Peter Kleissner at the Black Hat security conference in 2009 to an audience of security professionals and I believe intended by the author as an ‘eye opener’ for the industry. Notably, Stoned is the first bootkit that has been tested an verified on Windows 2000, Windows XP, Server 2003, Server 2008 and Windows 7.
So why does this blow my mind? It’s not that the technology is brand new – MBR viruses have been around for decades which is something which Kleissner acknowledges himself by naming his boot-kit after one of the earliest examples: the Stoned Virus from 1987 (I remember encountering the variants Manitoba and Zapper in the early nineties). The reason that I was so awed by Kleissner’s presentation is the comprehensive list of attack scenarios he presents, the ease with which this is possible and the fact that it can be used to entirely bypass whole-disk encryption (tested against Truecrypt and DiskCryptor). The bootkit is available for download as an ‘infected PDF’ or even as Live CD that can be used to boot and infect any PC to which you can gain physical access.
There has been some debate between Kleissner and Truecrypt about whether this constitutes a ‘valid’ attack, the debate is fairly academic since Truecrypt themselves acknowledge that the attack is effective provided that the attacker has administrator privileges (most non-technical users run this this way), that administrator privileges can be gained (most likely by other exploits) or through physical access to the machine. I’ll concede that Stoned isn’t a valid attack against Truecrypt itself but it is a valid attack against the PC and a such can still be used to entirely bypass Truecrypt which still allows an attacker to achieve the same aim.
As a footnote, it appears that Peter Kleissner is being sued by his former employer, Ikarus Security Software GmbH, for an alleged intellectual property violation (source code theft), given that he is only 18 years old I sincerely hope that this does not harm or curtail Peter’s future career and potential. Alarmingly there are reports (English here) that Ikarus and Kaspersky are attempting to build a criminal case agains Kleissner on charges including “distributing malicious code”, if this sticks it could be worrisome for all security researchers (particularly hobbyist hackers with no money for a good legal defence) who often write code that could be classified as malicious whether they intended it or not – all security flaws could be exploited, does that make it wrong to point them out?
I’ve never been much of a server admin but in order to install a fresh copy of SQL Server 2008 R2 (November CTP) I decided to install a fresh copy of Windows Server 2008 R2. I downloaded the install from Microsoft’s site and because I’ve been primarily running on Windows Server 2003 I ran through one of their e-Learning sessions to fill in the blanks of what’s new in both R2 and Server 2008.
The main versions are:
- Foundation (up to 8GB RAM, 1 Socket, no VMs)
- Standard (up to 32GB RAM, 4 Sockets, Host + 1VM),
- Web Server (up to 32GB RAM, 4 Sockets, no VMs)
- Enterprise (up to 2TB RAM, 8 Sockets, Host + 4VMs)
- Data Centre (up to 2TB RAM, 64 Sockets, unlimited VMs)
As always there are lots of new features on the list but the biggies seem to be Hyper-V, Remote Desktop Services (RDS) and Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI). The most stark break from the past here is that 2008 R2 will only run on 64-bit processors, existing users of Server 2008 32-bit installs on 64-bit processors will not be able to perform an upgrade and will have to do a clean install.
Hyper-V is Microsoft’s new virtualisation technology which on paper seems like a good challenger to VMWare ESX and it comes with R2 as standard although you’ll need Enterprise or Datacenter to make the most of it. By far the coolest feature of Hyper-V is the Live Migration (similar to VMWare’s VMotion), this allows you to move a guest system from one host server to another without any interruption to the users of the guest, that’s it – zero downtime.
RDS and VDI represent an enhancement of Terminal Services, along with Hyper-V you can now host virtual desktops on a virtual host and permit access from approved devices over the web or via the network, remote desktop now supports multiple monitors and Aero-Glass.
The session mentioned a number of other features, most noteworthy wew BranchCache (WAN optimisation), DirectAccess (seamless and interventionlessVPN replacement) and PowerShell 2.0 (command-line server admin) an there was an incremental 7.5 release of IIS.
Well, I hope you got something from this post, more details and a link to the e-Learning session can be found on Microsoft’s Windows Server 2008 R2 microsite.