Disable Autorun/Autoplay

Software

Disable Autorun/Autoplay is a great free application to do just that disable Autorun/Autoplay from opening any portable media, such as a USB pen, CD etc.

I personally think that autorun should be disabled as a default for one of the very reasons in the quote below in that it can be an easy route for malware to infect many PCs.

“There are many situations where AutoRun may need to be temporarily or persistently disabled. For example:

  • AutoRun might interfere with the operation of a running application and need to be disabled for the duration.
  • Some malware maybe achieve this by copying a malicious executable in the drive and modifying the Autorun.inf file so that Windows opens the malicious file silently as soon as the drive is mounted.”

disable autorun

Do note that you will have to run the application in Vista and Windows 7 as an Administrator to do this right click the application and choose “Run as Administrator” then once you have changed the settings you will need to reboot.

Download form HERE or the Developers Homepage HERE                            (works in Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7, I tested it in Windows 7 x64)

Windows Home Server V1 ~ Basic Setup Guide

windows-home-serverThis simple guide was started as I had been talking to a fellow MVP (Microsoft Most Valuable Professional) Philip Churchill whose area of expertise is Windows Home Server and in the discussions we thought that Windows Home Server (WHS) was not used as much as it should be by many home users.

To be honest I always thought that Windows Home Server was a niche market for those users who are very tech savvy, yes that would be me but I would never have got around to installing WHS anyhow unless nudged into giving it a test.

The more I thought about this application the more it came to be that I realised that Windows Home Server has a place in the modern home to control backups of multiple PCs, as many homes these days have more than one PC, plus with the added fact that backups are crucial in this information age.

I have lost count of the amount of times on web forums that PC users post a help question asking how they can recover their important pictures and files, so the option of a Home Server to do this automatically for not only one PC but however many you have in your home network becomes a real viable option.

Benefits of Windows Home Server I can see are:

  • You can centralise all your PCs backups in one area.
  • You can stream your files (music, video), share documents and files, so this becomes a bit of a hub of your home network.
  • You can remotely access your Home Server from anywhere with an internet connection (also via a Windows Mobile 7 phone).
  • Once setup you don’t need to have a monitor, keyboard or mouse plugged in, which if you have a small form factor PC can be hidden away neatly, but do make sure that the area is well ventilated to stop the PC from overheating.

I must warn you that the install is a bit like installing Windows XP and not a quick one, so devote at least 2-3hrs to installing WHS and installing the drivers as well as setting up the accounts for the various users and PCs in the network. I do hope that the next version of Windows Home Server as in codename “vail” (Windows Home Server 2011) is more like installing Windows 7 which is fairly quick.

While you can buy off the shelf Windows Home Server machines as in the ASUS TS Mini and ACER Aspire AH340 and these will be great for many users who have not previously build their own PC, for those that are confident in building their own PC then this guide I hope should help them use an old or spare PC as a Windows Home Server.

This is the donor PC (hardware specs of it are in the Getting Started guide doc below).

IMAG0032 IMAG0033

I have typed up a step by step guide of the install of Windows Home Server V1 that I have done and hope that it helps in the install and setup of Windows Home Server, they are in Adobe PDF format and if you do not have Acrobat Reader then download HERE

Just click the icons below to download.

PDF-Icon PDF-Icon PDF-Icon PDF-Icon

Getting Started          Connector Install         Account Creation               Backup

This concludes my initial basic guide to setting up a Windows Home Server V1 PC from a spare desktop, I may add updates as in installing a new hard Drive to a WHS PC or adding Add-ons to the software next as well as when the next version of Windows Home Server (Vail) is released a new guide for that version also.

I hope this simple guide helps you to setup a Windows Home Server V1 PC that allows you to backup all your networked PCs.

Some essential websites for information on Windows Home Server

Hotmail Aliases

Hotmail LiveHotmail has added a new feature (although Gmail has had this option for a while) which adds to the service in one good way, it allows you to create an alias email account off your main Hotmail account, this is handy as a disposable email address for signing up for online retailers so that you can selectively have all emails from one retailer in it’s own folder, say your email address is fred@hotmail.com well if you shop at say Amazon, you could setup fred+amazon@hotmail.com on Amazon as your email address, so that all emails from Amazon would go into that specific email folder.

“Starting today, you can create and manage multiple email aliases from a single Hotmail account. Together with features that we introduced in November that let you use Hotmail with any existing email address, the new aliasing feature makes it easy to use a different email address and still get all the benefits of Hotmail without having to change your primary email address and online identity.

The email address a person uses is a big part of their online identity. The average person maintains three different email addresses in order to organize different types of email, maintain different personas, or keep junk mail away from a primary email address. So there are many good reasons that people want multiple email addresses, but maintaining multiple accounts, with different user names and passwords that require you to check multiple inboxes, is inefficient. With today’s update, Hotmail helps you save time by making it easier to manage your current and future email addresses in one place.”

To setup open Hotmail and click the Options cog icon of the Inbox as in the image below

Hotmail 001

Then follow the prompts to setup this extra email alias, do choose New Folder so these emails are filtered into a separate folder for ease of access, you will then see a new folder with this email alias in your folder list.

Hotmail 002

To delete this alias once finished click the  Options cog icon of the Folder and choose Manage Folders and tick and delete the one you want to remove as in the above image.

Read more HERE

Panda Batch File Renamer

SoftwarePanda Batch File Renamer is a free application of the type I really like as it’s simple to use and a standalone application which is fantastic for use on a USB pen, as all you need to do is create yourself a Folder on your USB pen for Panda File Renamer and then extract the contents of the 7-zip download to that folder (are two files a main executable PandaBatchFileRenamer.exe  and a FotoFly.dll, cannot miss the executable file as its the Panda Icon).

Panda Batch File Renamer is an easy to use utility for changing the names of multiple files. The intuitive interface provides a flexible way to quickly alter file names. The current and final file names are shown side-by-side on the screen and any changes are displayed on screen immediately.

Information taken directly from the ID tags of photo and music files can be inserted into the file name. Multiple renaming options can be queued up to make very detailed changes to file names if required.                                                              
A history of changes is kept, allowing them to be undone if a mistake is made. Renaming options can be saved so that you do not have to repeatedly recreate them.

So as a standalone application its great for photographers.

You can add files either by browsing for them or highlighting and copying them to the clipboard, then in the clipboard way just click in the application, File > Add from the Clipboard, couldn’t be much simpler.

panda 01 panda 02

You can add, remove text, change the meta tags and a fair few other details to your media files.

panda 03  panda 04

As an Edit to my original post I’m adding a link to the AnimalSoftware forum HERE as the developer Ulric has added some guides to less known features of the Panda Batch File Renamer app.

Download from HERE or the Homepage HERE                                                 Note: I have tested this in Windows 7 (both 32bit and 64bit in Windows 7), did also try in Vista 32bit and you just need to make sure you are fully patched with all updates from Windows Update and at least .Net 3.5

PDFJumbler

SoftwarePDFJumbler is a free and really good simple application to allow you to open up a PDF file and re-arrange the pages, delete, merge pages. The whole interface is easy to use as its virtually drag and drop.

“A simple tool to rearrange/merge/delete pages from PDF files.”

I opened a guide I’m working on and in the first image its default and all I did was to drag page 2 to the top in the second image.

pdfjumbler 001       pdfjumbler 002

To merge two or more PDF documents together, all you need to do is to click the small folder icon to open them and they are merged, from there you can move pages around or delete if needed.

Download from HERE                                                                          (Works in Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7, I have tested in Windows 7 x64)

Note: download the Click to download setup-pdfjumbler-0.16.exe file or later version when available from the Project Feed list if you are using Windows *edit: I was informed that the version 17 link is now dead, so have changed to the previous version 16 which is still good.

Windows Vulnerability in MHTML

securityBigMicrosoft have released a Security Advisory KB2501696 for Windows Operating System in which an attacker can affect Internet Explorer, and while this was release last week, I thought it maybe prudent in the light of a few news agencies now posting this information to highlight the information and workaround, until the full patch fix is released.

“The main impact of the vulnerability is unintended information disclosure. We’re aware of published information and proof-of-concept code that attempts to exploit this vulnerability, but we haven’t seen any indications of active exploitation.”

While this is a serious issue, it can be blown out of proportion by the media, when in reality its only a proof of concept and may not be exploited, however its always wise to keep your Windows version and all software fully up to date.

“The vulnerability lies in the MHTML (MIME Encapsulation of Aggregate HTML) protocol handler, which is used by applications to render certain kinds of documents. The impact of an attack on the vulnerability would be similar to that of server-side cross-site-scripting (XSS) vulnerabilities.  For instance, an attacker could construct an HTML link designed to trigger a malicious script and somehow convince the targeted user to click it. When the user clicked that link, the malicious script would run on the user’s computer for the rest of the current Internet Explorer session.  Such a script might collect user information (eg., email), spoof content displayed in the browser, or otherwise interfere with the user’s experience.”

More info HERE

Just click the FixIt logo below to enable and disable the workaround fix.

FixIt

Enhanced Keyfinder

First off this is not a key generator that allows you to generate an illegal serial key for Windows Operating System or other applications, its job is to allow you to quickly and easily find the serial licence keys for a few applications.

Enhanced Keyfinder 001For obvious reasons my licence keys are blanked out above

Two of the great options that this application has over other keyfinders is the ability to load a Registry Hive from another PC or via a network to allow you or an administrator to locate the licence keys, and the final one is the ability to run from a Linux CD and the steps are HERE from the developer of this app from sag47.

My tip is to use this application to save off your licence key data to a text file and save or print out and keep safe in case you have to re-install Windows or another application and cannot find the original box and licence serial key. To save to a text files is as simple as running the application and then clicking File > Save As, then name your text file and click Save.

Download HERE

Windows 8 out in January 2013?

Windows 8 logoWell as the rumour mill starts the new one is that Windows 8, if you can still call it that as internally to Microsoft its called Windows.Next so 8 is not a given but is the likely number anyways, is that Windows 8 will be released in January of 2013 according to Microsoftfeed.

Knowing the timelines to development of Windows versions and how Microsoft are more so getting back onto the schedule of every 2yrs is a new Windows release I would more be opting for a release date for Windows.Next (8 if you wish) of October 2012 at the latest, but that’s just my guess.

IPv6 ok what is it I hear you say!

164ASP21704517In basic terms IPv6 takes over and/or adds from IPv4 which has 4 billion web addresses and the core of the internet. As the internet has expanded over the years the IP addresses for websites links (as in your www.xxxx.com)  have started to run out so a new protocol was needed, and here comes in IPv6.

“On 8 June, 2011, Google, Facebook, Yahoo!, Akamai and Limelight Networks will be amongst some of the major organisations that will offer their content over IPv6 for a 24-hour “test drive”. The goal of the Test Drive Day is to motivate organizations across the industry – Internet service providers, hardware makers, operating system vendors and web companies – to prepare their services for IPv6 to ensure a successful transition as IPv4 addresses run out.”

You can test your IPv6 readiness HERE

If you are not IPv6 ready then some sites when they go live with IPv6, you may not be able to view unless they stack and have dual IPv4 and IPv6 versions of their sites.

Many users of Windows have due to some network connection issues, have disabled IPv6, so come June 8th 2011 it maybe a wise thing to re-enable IPv6 and its found in your Network Connection Properties.

Windows 7 SP1 due soon??

Windows 7While I maybe A Microsoft MVP in Windows Operating Systems I don’t always know the release dates to a new Windows version or the Service Packs, but this weeks (11/01/2011) Windows updates aka Patch Tuesday included an update (KB976902) to allow other updates to install ok.

This can signify that a major release is due and the only one I know of of late is for Windows 7 and SP1. SP1 has been in beta for a while and I will say I have not had to report any issues at all with the beta on my test PC, so this Service Pack I feel is bomb proof, although it will depend on your PC setup and applications installed as not all PCs update ok.

Microsoft does have a Service Pack blocker HERE for those in business who wish to block this Service Pack until tested on their networks or the home user who wishes to wait a bit to see if there are any issues.

So expect to see Windows 7 SP1 very soon, my guess March-ish time.