The Lazy Genius

Security News & Brain Dumps from Xavier Ashe, a Bit9 Client Partner

Archive for the ‘Other Technology’ Category

Impressions of Windows 8 for the family

Posted by Xavier Ashe on January 25, 2013

I’ve been running Windows 8 on one my laptops since it’s release and put in the kitchen for my family to use.  It’s a powerful laptop, i7, 12 gb RAM, nice graphics card.  I’ve used it, as has my wife and my three elementary age kids.  My teenagers have their own PCs and laptops.  I’m now replacing this laptop (need to give it back to IBM) with another.  It has Windows 7 on it.  Note, neither laptops have a touchscreen.

My first thought was to reformat with a fresh Windows 8 install, since it will be the new family machine.  Windows 8 has family controls built in to the OS, has PIN logons, and the Metro look and feel is very nice.  But I started thinking about how many family uses it.

My wife was constantly frustrated about trying to get stuff done on it.  The Metro version of IE has some shortcomings, mainly not running flash unless Microsoft approves it.  She googled how to recreate a Start button, and if she uses this machine, she goes directly to the desktop.  She never used one of the Metro apps, but she also has her own laptop with Windows 7.  She installed Chrome and stopped using IE 10.

My boys (ages 6 and 8) love the Bing app.  They can spend hours just searching various star wars names and looking at the image results.  But IE has problems with various sites like and  I put a Chrome icon on their Metro home page.  It of course runs in the desktop.

My 10 year old daughter does a lot of homework online.  Half of her sites don’t work in IE 10, so she uses chrome, too.  My 8 year old boy attends an online school.  Again, IE 10 doesn’t work.  Word processing is via Symphony, on the desktop.

Even though I installed a bunch of free Metro games for the kids, they don’t use them.  They want the games on PBS, Star Wars, Lego, American Girl, and other web sites.  They each got their own Android tablets for Hanukkah, so all those Metro games have similar ports on Android and are more fun to play on a touchscreen device.

The only positive things out of Windows 8 is the Bing Search app, parental controls built it, and my kids learning how to use the new OS.  But in the end, most just go to the desktop and launch Chrome.  The new laptop has a fingerprint scanner, so there’s no reason for a password or PIN.

I think I will leave Windows 7 on the new family laptop.  I get my new work PC next week.  I will contemplate putting Windows 8 on there for a while and see how it works for work.


Posted in Other Technology, Personal Note | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Finding an adapter for an old Roku.

Posted by Xavier Ashe on December 1, 2012

I have an older Roku, an N1000. It’s only 720p and no WiFi.  I dug it out once I freed up my Ethernet over power adapters. Now want some streaming love in my bedroom. Unfortunately, I could not find the power adapter! I dug through my big box of extra adapters, but nothing was 5v and 2A. I went to Radio Shack to see what they had. They wanted $45 for the adapter kit!! Can you believe that?! I’m not sure this Roku is even worth that much.

I hit the interwebs and was happy to find a D-Link AF1205-B Power Adapter DC 5V 2A 120V for only $9. I got it today, and it works!  So if you are looking for a power adapter for a Roku N1000, the D-Link adapter is the winner!

Posted in Other Technology | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Teen Calls Bush’s Secret Phone; Creates Security Scare

Posted by Xavier Ashe on December 14, 2007

An Icelandic teen, MSNBC reports, figured out President Bush’s
private phone number, and called it recently, leaving a message saying
he was the president of Iceland and wanted Bush to call him back. When
police visited the teen, after being alerted by Secret Service, he
would not say how he learned the top-secret number. Big Head DC is speculating that he somehow deciphered the code from when Jenna Bush called her parents during a recent taping of the Ellen show.

From Big Head DC.

Posted in For Fun, Other Technology | Leave a Comment »

iPhone 1.1.1 to 1.0.2 downgrade instructions released!

Posted by Xavier Ashe on September 30, 2007

Well would you look at that, instructions are now available for
downgrading your iPhone from 1.1.1 to 1.0.2. It won't downgrade your
baseband, meaning so far you can't re-unlock an iPhone that's been
1.1.1-ified, but it's still 1.0.2 in all its third-party application
glory. The iPhone Dev Team folks are working on a way to downgrade the
new firmware to let people unlock their phones again, but for now
AT&T users sitting pretty, and non-AT&T folks can at least do
the WiFi thing. There's a video tutorial after the break.

Read – iPhone Dev Wiki instructions
Read – Hackint0sh thread where the magic happened

From Engadget.

Posted in Other Technology | Leave a Comment »

How to Download iTunes Store Previews and Use Them As Ringtones – UPDATED AND WORKING

Posted by Xavier Ashe on September 10, 2007

Ok, so we know how to use your own ripped CD’s as ringtones on your iPhone but here is an updated way to download and use iTS previews with your iPhone – AKA FREE RINGTONES of your favorite songs.

Now, this isn’t for the feint of heart. It requires command-line access and Perl and only works on OS X.

Go on over to UNEASYsilence to get the instructions.

Posted in Other Technology | Leave a Comment »

BSA to pay up to $1 million for piracy tips

Posted by Xavier Ashe on July 6, 2007

The Business Software Alliance announced on Monday the launch of its
“Blow the Whistle” campaign and said it will offer up to $1 million as
a bonus for employees that turn in their employers.

The campaign, which lasts until October 2007,
rewards end users that tip off the the software industry's lobbying arm
and offer evidence about companies that have installed unlicensed
copies of software. Until the end of the campaign, the BSA will pay a
bounty to informants based on the settlement with a maximum fee of $1
million, up from the normal top tip for tattlers of $200,000. Under the
guidelines of the program, end users cannot have been the ones to install the software unless they were ordered to do so by a supervisor.

Will you be a rat?  Read the full article on SecurityFocus.

Posted in Other Technology | Leave a Comment »

New Computer Program to Reassemble Shredded Stasi Files

Posted by Xavier Ashe on May 12, 2007

Millions of files consigned to paper shredders
in the late days of the East German regime will be pieced together by
computer. The massive job of reassembling this puzzle from the late
Cold War was performed, until now, by hand.

It's been years in the making, but finally software designed to
electronically piece together some 45 million shredded documents from
the East German secret police went into service in Berlin on Wednesday.
Now, a puzzle that would take 30 diligent Germans 600 to 800 years to
finish by hand, according to one estimate, might be solved by computer
in seven.

Low tech decryption.  Good article from Spiegel Online.

Posted in Other Technology, Privacy | Leave a Comment »

Fake Boarding Pass Maker in trouble agian

Posted by Xavier Ashe on December 12, 2006

Last month Security Fix reported that Chris Soghoian — the Indiana University doctoral student who created an online boarding pass generator to demonstrate security holes in the Transportation Security Administration's “no-fly” list — had been cleared of any wrongdoing by the FBI and the Justice Department.

Well, turns out the guy isn't out of the woods yet.

On Wednesday afternoon, Soghoian received a letter from the TSA
informing him that the agency is conducting its own investigation into
the allegation that he “attempted to circumvent an established civil
aviation security program established in the Transportation Security
Regulations.” If Soghoian is ultimately found to have attempted said
circumvention, the TSA said, he could be subjected to civil penalties
of up to $11,000 per violation. That could be a steep fine: Something
like 35,000 people viewed and possibly used the boarding pass generator
during the less than 72 hours that it was live on his site in November.

You can read a scanned copy of the TSA letter at Soghoian's site.

From Security Fix.

Posted in Other Technology | Leave a Comment »

Wireless Video Scanner

Posted by Xavier Ashe on December 9, 2006

[aboxman] brought this nice wavecom jr mod
to my attention. I first ran across scanning for wireless video signals
a couple years ago when the X10 version came out. People were surprised
at just how many video signals were flying through the air.This little
project results in a unit that can scan a wide 2.3 to 2.7Ghz range. Of
course, if you're across the pond, you might want a european version.

Ooh, I found my next project!  From Hack-a-Day.

Posted in For Fun, Other Technology | Leave a Comment »

6 DMCA new exemptions – good and bad…

Posted by Xavier Ashe on November 25, 2006

Copy protection on games for which there is no longer support from any publisher is no more. Under the new DMCA laws, copy protection can legally be cracked is the copyright holder no longer has any interest in the game.

This means that old school games can now be preserved, and there shouldn't be any legal ramifications to the individual or group who does so.

Other alterations to the laws included allowing cell phone software to be cracked to allow for use on other service providers, allowing blind people to use third-party software to read copy-protected books, and allowing educators to make DVD scene compilations.

The new laws will begin on Monday and last for three years.

From GWN.  [viaEFF has more details about all 6 changes in the DMCA code:

1. Audiovisual works included in the educational library of a
college or university’s film or media studies department, when
circumvention is accomplished for the purpose of making compilations of
portions of those works for educational use in the classroom by media
studies or film professors.

2. Computer programs and video games distributed in formats that
have become obsolete and that require the original media or hardware as
a condition of access, when circumvention is accomplished for the
purpose of preservation or archival reproduction of published digital
works by a library or archive. A format shall be considered obsolete if
the machine or system necessary to render perceptible a work stored in
that format is no longer manufactured or is no longer reasonably
available in the commercial marketplace.

3. Computer programs protected by dongles that prevent access due to
malfunction or damage and which are obsolete. A dongle shall be
considered obsolete if it is no longer manufactured or if a replacement
or repair is no longer reasonably available in the commercial

4. Literary works distributed in ebook format when all existing
ebook editions of the work (including digital text editions made
available by authorized entities) contain access controls that prevent
the enabling either of the book’s read-aloud function or of screen
readers that render the text into a specialized format.

5. Computer programs in the form of firmware that enable wireless
telephone handsets to connect to a wireless telephone communication
network, when circumvention is accomplished for the sole purpose of
lawfully connecting to a wireless telephone communication network.

6. Sound recordings, and audiovisual works associated with those
sound recordings, distributed in compact disc format and protected by
technological protection measures that control access to lawfully
purchased works and create or exploit security flaws or vulnerabilities
that compromise the security of personal computers, when circumvention
is accomplished solely for the purpose of good faith testing,
investigating, or correcting such security flaws or vulnerabilities.

Posted in Other Technology, Privacy | Leave a Comment »

Certification Top 10 Lists Revisited

Posted by Xavier Ashe on October 23, 2006

When a story like this ran in 2003, it prompted more responses and
controversy than we imagined. Although we try to be clear that the
order of appearance in any given list indicates nothing about relative
ranking or merit, that aspect of things provokes comment, as does the
inclusion of some little-known credentials or the omission of
better-known ones.

But given that there are more than 850 certifications and more
than 200 certification programs in today’s IT certification landscape,
we hope to help our readers distinguish good ones from mediocre or bad
ones, winners from losers and up-and-comers from programs in their
declining phase. So remember, you can go out and analyze the
marketplace for yourself and plow through the numerous interest, salary
and popularity surveys to try to figure out this stuff for yourself.
While you’re at it, it’s also important to pay attention to what’s
showing up in classified job ads and online postings to determine where
the real action is.

As in the previous survey, we tried to develop a rough
consensus about what’s hot and where the action appears to be in
today’s highly fragmented IT job market. We can’t dispute that these
lists draw heavily on the author’s knowledge, experience and
observations, thus they must also reflect his preferences (and possibly
even biases.) As in the previous collection of lists, each is labeled
by category, along with a short discussion of what characteristics made
credentials most suited for inclusion.

This is from and is getting a good bit of coverage.  Go and see where your certs fit and plan you next few.  Here's the winners:

Best Hands-On Programs: Certified Professional Information Technology Consultant (CPITC)
Best Supporting Materials: (ISC)2 Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)
Best Specialty Certifications: Brocade Certified SAN Designer (BCSD)
Toughest Recertification Requirements: Cisco Certifications
Best Vendor-Neutral Credentials: Building Industry Consulting Services International (BiCSi)
Most Technically Advanced Programs: (ISC)2 Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)
Best New Programs or Certs: (ISC)2 Associate Program
Best Entry-Level Certifications:
Certified Wireless Network Administrator (CWNA)

Posted in Other Technology, Security | Leave a Comment »

Toolkit to Disable Automatic Delivery of Internet Explorer 7

Posted by Xavier Ashe on October 19, 2006

To help our customers become more secure and up-to-date,
Microsoft will distribute Internet Explorer 7 as a high-priority update
via Automatic Updates for Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 soon after
the final version of the browser is released (planned for fourth
quarter 2006). Microsoft is making a non-expiring Blocker Toolkit
available for those organizations that would like to block automatic
delivery of Internet Explorer 7 to machines in environments where
Automatic Updates is enabled.


  • The Blocker Toolkit will prevent machines from
    receiving Internet Explorer 7 as a high-priority update via Automatic
    Updates and the “Express” install option on the Windows Update and
    Microsoft Update sites. The Blocker Toolkit will not expire.
  • The
    Blocker Toolkit will not prevent users from manually installing
    Internet Explorer 7 as a Recommended update from the Windows Update or
    Microsoft Update sites, from the Microsoft Download Center, or from
    external media.
  • Organizations do not need to deploy the
    Blocker Toolkit in environments managed with an update management
    solution such as Windows Server Update Services or Systems Management
    Server 2003. Organizations can use those products to fully manage
    deployment of updates released through Windows Update and Microsoft
    Update, including Internet Explorer 7, within their environment.

See the “Additional Information” section below for detailed
instructions on configuring and deploying the Blocker Toolkit. The same
information is also provided in the Help file included in the download.

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions can be found here.

So if you don't want to be forced to run IE 7, download this toolkit from Microsoft.

Posted in Other Technology | Leave a Comment »

Nintendo DS Homebrew how-to

Posted by Xavier Ashe on October 9, 2006

Intrigued by the notion of playing old school games on your DS but don't know where to begin? Would you like to use your DS as a map or check out a free browser?
Never fear — no matter how technically challenged you may be, there's
a solution for you. This time, it comes in the form of a
beginner-friendly guide to checking out homebrew options for your very own Nintendo DS.

The guide takes you step by step through the process of preparing to
use homebrew apps. After all, understanding is one thing — actually
taking the plunge is another, and the guide is very helpful when it
comes to recommendations on what to get and what to do with it once you
have it. While this guide covers the basics about preparing for
homebrew and looping around the built-in protections, it doesn't get
into applications. Baby steps, people. They're saving those things for
future guides. So if you're looking to get started but haven't a clue
what to do, check it out.

Awesome Guide from S0rethumbs.  I know what I am doming with my DS tonight!  [via]

Posted in For Fun, Other Technology | Leave a Comment »

How To: Dismantle an Atomic Bomb

Posted by Xavier Ashe on October 5, 2006

Sure, the odds are slim that you'd ever be faced with
an atomic device ticking down to zero. But think of how Jack Bauer it'd
be if you were. And then who're you going to trust? Us or some
do-gooder rock band?

Very important information from Wired.

If these tips don't work, give us a call and let us know what we got wrong.

Posted in For Fun, Other Technology | Leave a Comment »

How to use your PC and Webcam as a motion-detecting and recording security camera

Posted by Xavier Ashe on October 4, 2006

This tutorial will take you step-by-step through setting up your PC and
Webcam to act as a motion-detecting and recording security camera
system. And the software required to do this is open source (free).

6 Reasons to set up a motion activated web-cam

  1. Maybe you live in a questionable (at best) part of East Vancouver
    and you’ve already been broken into (while you were doing the dishes).
    It would be helpful next time to have pictures of the intruder.
  2. Maybe you’re trying to prove to your landlord that some of the
    more questionable members of the general East Vancouver public are
    using the pathway between your building and the one next door as a
    shortcut between streets. Often with very large bags of cans (it’s a
    Vancouver thing). Loudly. At all hours of the day and night.
  3. Perhaps you want to catch someone using your PC after you’ve asked
    them repeatedly not to use it (because they seem to go out of their way
    to install spyware, toolbars you don’t want, and leave behind Britney
    Spears mp3s on your desktop)
  4. You’re bored?
  5. You want to get pictures of the pretty birdies eating from your new bird feeder.
  6. Yeah I know what you were expecting here, that’s lewd. Get your mind out of the gutter, this is a family site.

Good stuff from Simplehelp.

Posted in Other Technology, Security | Leave a Comment »

Netcool + Tivoli: delivering service management innovation

Posted by Xavier Ashe on September 25, 2006

The acquisition of Micromuse by IBM marks a major milestone in the
growth of IBM Tivoli software because it significantly strengthens our
service management software portfolio for enterprises of any size. The
Tivoli and Netcool product integration white paper for enterprises, “Netcool + Tivoli: Delivering Service Management Innovation” is now available.

The primary audience of “Netcool + Tivoli: Delivering Service
Management Innovation” is Netcool and Tivoli enterprise customers.
Service provider customers will be addressed in a separate paper. This
paper will help clarify many questions your customers and prospects may
have about Netcool and Tivoli service management product portfolio
integration. The paper discusses the efforts in progress to deliver an
enhanced end-to-end IBM Service Management portfolio within each major
enterprise operational management category that contains Netcool
products. The white paper also addresses:

  • Benefits associated with the combined Netcool and Tivoli portfolio.
  • Safeguards in place to help protect, optimize, and extend investments in Netcool and Tivoli products.
  • Short- and long-term plans to deliver a converged product portfolio.

So the log awaited “roadmap” is publically available.  Look for another paper soon if you a service provider.  It's public confirmation that Tivoli Security Operations Manager will replace Tivoli Risk Manager.  See the PDF for details.

Posted in Other Technology | Leave a Comment »

DSAmp – Control Winamp from your DS

Posted by Xavier Ashe on August 24, 2006

Img413 1080
The DS is a wonderful machine, capable of interacting with a PC in imaginative ways. Now, the clever homebrew community, has come up with a way for the DS to control Winamp. Should any of you DIY-ers out there wish to film yourself giving this a go, send us a link and like Doc Holliday, we'll make you famous.

Now how about someone coming up with a way to stream music or video from Winamp onto the DS?

From DS Fanboy.

Posted in Other Technology | Leave a Comment »

Copying of HD DVD and Blu-ray successful

Posted by Xavier Ashe on August 3, 2006

The solution was surprisingly low-tech: the user simply hit the
PrintScreen key. The screen capture feature of the operating system
allowed each frame to be digitally captured exactly as it was displayed
on-screen. Since it would be impractical to sit around advancing movies
frame by frame and hitting PrintScreen all day, a script was used to
automate the process. Each frame resulted in a 2 MB image. The
computers used were fast enough to capture 30 frames per second,
enabling real-time capturing of the movies without dropped frames. For
a 90-minute movie, this is 162,000 frames, or approximately 324 GB in
total storage, so if you try this, make sure you have lots of free hard
disk space! The sound tracks must be captured separately and then
re-synched with the video, so this is by no means a trivial process.

The magazine said that it has verified the capability with Sony's first
Blu-ray PC (the VGC-RC 204) as well as Toshiba's HD DVD-equipped
notebook, the Qosmio G30. Both of these computers use a new HD version
of the popular WinDVD playback software to display high-definition
movies. The “security” issue has been confirmed by Toshiba, and the
company plans to issue a software and graphics driver update that will
presumably disable the PrintScreen functionality. According to Toshiba,
this version of WinDVD does not violate the security stipulations in
the AACS license agreement, therefore the software update should be
optional for users. However, in theory new movies could switch license
keys, requiring a software update to restore movie playback

Still, the old adage remains true: if a computer can display something,
some sort of software can capture it. If it's not PrintScreen, it might
very well be something else.

Read the full article on ArsTechnica.

Posted in Other Technology, Security | Leave a Comment »

How readable is your site?

Posted by Xavier Ashe on August 2, 2006

This service analyses the readability of all rendered content. Unfortunately, this will include navigation items, and other short items of content that do not make up the part of the page that is intended to be the subject of the readability test. These items are likely to skew the results. The difference will be minimal in situations where the copy content is much larger than the navigation items, but documents with little content but lots of navigation items will return results that aren't correct.

The Readablity Test by Juicy Studio.  Here are my results:

Reading Level Results
Summary Value
Total sentences 926
Total words 5261
Average words per Sentence 5.68
Words with 1 Syllable 3039
Words with 2 Syllables 1154
Words with 3 Syllables 640
Words with 4 or more Syllables 428
Percentage of word with three or more syllables 20.30%
Average Syllables per Word 1.71
Gunning Fog Index 10.39
Flesch Reading Ease 56.68
Flesch-Kincaid Grade 6.76

That puts me somewhere in between Time, Newsweek, and the Wall Street Journal.

Posted in For Fun, Other Technology, Personal Note | Leave a Comment »

DOS with your Cell phone!

Posted by Xavier Ashe on July 31, 2006

Just when I thought I had seen every cool way to DOS a computer, Rickard Liljeberg finds the coolest yet.

Apparently if you stick a cell phone near the CD-ROM of a Dell Optiplex GX520 and receive a SMS/text message, the machine will go into suspend mode!

Imagine the pranking possibilities.

If you read through the comments of the site, Richard states that a few folks from Dell have already viewed his page.

Here's a link to the video, or please visit the blog entry to read more.

Found on A Day in the Life of an Information Security Investigator.

Posted in Other Technology, Security | Leave a Comment »

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